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The holiday season is all about cute. They have these ads with adorable kids and the movies about big-eyed baby animals.
But if people notice too much cuteness, the result can be something that scientists call "cute aggression."
People just have this Denkblitz: "I want to crush it" or "I want to push it until it pops" or "I want to beat it," says Katherine Stavropoulos, a psychologist at the Graduate School of Education at the University of California , Riverside
About half of all adults sometimes have these thoughts, says Stavropoulos, who published a study on this phenomenon in early December Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience . But these people would not really make a move on Bambi or Thumper, she says.
"When people feel that way, it's not the desire to cause harm," says Stavropoulos. The thoughts seem to be an involuntary response to being overwhelmed by a positive emotion.
Sweet aggression is often confusing and embarrassing to the people who experience it. Stavropoulos says they think, "That's weird, I'm probably the only one who feels that way, I do not want to hurt it, I just want to eat it."
Sweet Aggression was first described by 2015 researchers at Yale University.
But Stavropoulos, herself a cute attacker, wanted to know what the brain looked like.
Thus, she and a colleague recorded the electrical activity in the brain of 54 young adults while they saw pictures of animals and humans.
The pictures included both adults and babies. Some had been manipulated to be less appealing. Others have been made especially likeable, meaning "big cheeks, big eyes, little noses – all these features we associate with cuteness," says Stavropoulos.
The study found that lower creatures were associated with greater activity for the entire group of participants in brain areas involved in emotions. But the cuter the aggression of a person was, the more activity the scientists saw in the reward system of the brain.
This suggests that individuals thinking of puppies are driven by two powerful forces in the brain. "It's not just reward and not just emotion," says Stavropoulos. "Both systems in the brain are involved in this experience of cute aggression."
The combination can be overwhelming. And scientists suspect that the brain therefore begins to produce aggressive thoughts. The idea is that the appearance of these negative emotions helps people to gain control over the positive amokrites.
"It could be that these expressions somehow help us sort it out and get up a bit faster from this baby," says Oriana Aragón, an assistant professor at Clemson University, who was part of the Yale team that led the cute aggression gave her name.
Aggressive thoughts in response to adorable creatures are just one example of "dimorphic expressions of positive emotions." "Aragón says.
" People who want to pinch and growl babies' cheeks are also people who tend to cry or cry at the wedding when the baby is born or has nervous laughter. "She says.
Aragon says she's one of those people," Puppies are just incredible and adorable and sweet to me and I can not resist them. "