We've all felt the need to squeeze something when it's overwhelmingly cute. It's an odd reaction. Why would one want to squeeze something, and potentially hurt it, when it's so cute?
Now researchers have discovered why. According to a study presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, seeing something cute does bring out aggression in us.
They took 109 people, showed them images of cute, funny, and "neutral" animals, and had them rate how they felt about the pictures.
Participants who saw the "cute" animals usually reacted with statements like, "I just can't handle it!" or "I want to squeeze it."
The cuter the animal, the more aggressive the response.
"We think it's about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control," one researcher said.
Researchers decided to see if that verbal aggression would manifest into physical aggression if given the chance by doing a second study. This time, they had participants pop the air out of bubble wrap after they looked at the same images.
Those participants who saw "cute" images popped 120 bubbles on average, compared to 80 to 100 bubbles for the people who saw the other images.
Researcher Rebecca Dyer said one reason we might react aggressively to cute images is because we want to take care of it, but are unable to because it's an image. We get frustrated by that, so then we get aggressive.
Another reason for our aggressive reactions might be because it's "too much of a good thing." Sometimes we react negatively when we're really happy, like those moments when you're so ecstatic that you cry.