Cats have been a thing on the Internet for as long as we’ve had the World Wide Web. Cat memes is legionand social media has made stars of felines like Sockington, Maruand Lil Bub (who has too Genomic sequencing). There are parties and raves about cat videos. Jessica Myrickprofessor at Indiana University, set out to measure the behavioral impact of exposure to all those cat videos, and the results have just been published in the journal. Computers and Human Behavior.
Is this obsession with Internet cats a good thing for society? We know that having a pet improves a person’s mood, but does just watching Maru jump into crates satisfy the same part of us? Professor Myrick studies consumers of Internet cat content, looking to find inspiration and find emotion. It also tests a new model of how closeness, family, happiness, and pleasure are related when it comes to our family’s pleasures on the Internet.
There are three schools of thought on why people turn to Internet cats. The first time is the best example by Emergency Kitten, which allows users to use (Creative Commons-licensed) kittens as a palliative for stressful times. Next is proximity—for example, when someone spends their time looking at cat pictures in their Twitter timeline rather than finishing an article, perhaps. Thirdly, there may be a demographic component: different types of people are predisposed to the adaptations of digital felines—especially introverts, because cats are seen as antagonistic animals.
The study participants were personal consumers of Internet cat content-6795 in all, attractive in favor of women (88.4 percent) and white people (90.4 percent). On average, this group watches cat videos or sees cat pictures every day, and has an average of 2.3 cats each (if we ignore the standard deviation; the numbers are skewed by some interviewers). Interestingly, questions designed to assess participants’ The Big Five Satisfied people show a lot of introverts, and the additional group what is in a lot of shy people. But they were still a happy bunch, at least when asked to think about the previous two weeks.
Watching cat videos online may have contributed to this general happiness. Participants reported a decrease in negative emotions—anger, anxiety, depression, guilt—after using the Internet, as well as an increase in positive emotions (hope, happiness, contentment). Thus, the use of Internet cats as a mood changer—the Emergency Kitten myth—appears to be spreading. As for the motivations behind those waits, Myrick’s data works with his model. Although procrastinators felt guilty after watching videos of cats hitting the table when they should have been working, that was more than offset by the happiness received. The effect also depends on the quality of the cat’s content.
Although Myrick’s research was mainly about the effects of Internet cats, the participants were still getting regular-but less frequent-exposure to dogs and other animals online. Teasing out the relative contributions to our emotional support made by us don’t or red panda Instead of an amazing kitten it can be difficult though. The participants were also very likely to spontaneously reprogram their Internet cat, enthusiastically finding the show only a quarter of the time. Although, as Myrick notes, if one’s social network is rich in cats, finding lots of cats online might not be surprising.
Should the idea that we turn to cats on the Internet for mood enhancement be that surprising? After all, it seems intuitive, but science often proves human intuition wrong. Professor Myrick’s research provides empirical data on the many benefits to using Internet cat content, although it may be some time before the FDA approves it. Henri Le Chat Noir for use as an anxiolytic.
Computers and Human Behavior2015. DOI: 10.1016 / j.chb.2015.06.001