Study: Viewing Cat Videos At Work Can Make You More Productive

from the who-comes-up-with-these? dept

For many, many years, we've pointed out just how silly all those studies are that claim that any time not directly spent working -- such as on "personal surfing" -- was somehow lost productivity. Companies who sold filters to businesses often would put out these exaggerated "studies" that extrapolated the amount of time that people spend doing "non-work" things at work, multiply it by an average employee's hourly salary, and claim that much money was "lost productivity." That number is obviously bogus. First of all, it doesn't take into account the amount of time people spend "working" when they're not at the office either (many of us check our emails, for example, while at home). It also ignores the much more important point that productivity is not an exact relationship to time worked in many jobs. In fact, being non-stop focused on work every minute of the day can certainly be a drag on productivity, because it doesn't give your brain time off to process stuff, and doesn't give you a good way to focus in on what you need to do.

Finally, there's a study to help point this out... and it does so in the most internet-awesome way imaginable. The study has found that staring at cute images can actually help productivity:
Performance indexed by the number of successful trials increased after viewing cute images (puppies and kittens; M ± SE = 43.9±10.3% improvement) more than after viewing images that were less cute (dogs and cats; 11.9±5.5% improvement). In the second experiment, this finding was replicated by using a non-motor visual search task. Performance improved more after viewing cute images (15.7±2.2% improvement) than after viewing less cute images (1.4±2.1% improvement). Viewing images of pleasant foods was ineffective in improving performance (1.2±2.1%).... Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing.
I love academic speak trying to basically say "seeing cute animals makes you happy, and helps you focus" and turning it into: "a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing." Either way, while the study really only focused on "cute" images, it didn't take long for people to (perhaps reasonably) extrapolate the findings to cat videos as well.

So, in the interest of helping your productivity, we offer the following:



Your boss can thank me later.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2012 @ 6:52pm

    Poor Mike, falling victim to the massive cat video industries bogus numbers. I would go on but I'm a terrible troll.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2012 @ 8:05pm

    I would put forward the hypothesis that seeing videos and images of such nature results in the worker becoming calmer and having less stress. It's been well-established that high-stress environments lead to worse productivity.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2012 @ 8:46pm

    For some reason, the second video doesn't allow linking on some sites, this one being one of them, it won't play here.

     

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  4.  
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    Forest_GS (profile), Oct 19th, 2012 @ 8:52pm

    So, modding the graphics of any FPS to show cute stuff would give an amazing boost in k/d rato?

     

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  5.  
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    MrWilson, Oct 19th, 2012 @ 9:40pm

    Re:

    My attempt:

    Aha! Now we see as I've said all along - Mike is paid by Big Cat Video to shill for cat videos because he wants to put all the dog videographers out of business because he's anti-dog video.

    Won't you think of the amateur dog videographers?!? It costs the economy eleventy dogzillion dollars when cat videos are more popular than dog videos! Humane societies are federally mandated to euthanize the cutest puppies they have on hand when cat videos reach 1 million hits on YouTube. Think of the cute puppies!

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2012 @ 9:59pm

    Well at least someone is thinking of the kittens

     

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  7.  
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    Ophelia Millais (profile), Oct 20th, 2012 @ 2:02am

    Re:

    It won't play in Google Reader, but it works fine for me if I go to TechDirt.

     

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  8.  
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    Jake, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 2:58am

    Had this argument with my dad once, and challenged him to tally up the amount of time his subordinates spent skimming their personal email/Facebook page/favourite football results source online versus the amount of time he spent out the back of the office having a smoke.

    He got very uncomfortable and changed the subject.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 3:49am

    Re:

    I hate cats.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Kevin (profile), Oct 20th, 2012 @ 7:04am

    handy animal

    I guess these videos would help someone who had to do some

    ready for this,

    CAT-aloguing

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 7:55am

    Re:

    I used to have that similar argument with a boss of mine while working at a restaurant.

    I would venture to say that probably about 70%+ of all restaurant employees are smokers. So for those of us who are not, getting harassed for just taking a breather in the service station when its slow was quite a pain in the ass. One day to prove the point, I would go to the manager's office (or wherever he was) anytime our bartenders went out for a smoke break and just hang out around him doing nothing.

    Two hours into the shift and 4 smoke breaks later he got the point. Wasting 30% of your time smoking (10m break every half-hour) was not anywhere near as counter-productive as us non smokers just standing around bullshitting when it was slow.

    Anyway, if you work where smoke breaks are allowed and you don't smoke I suggest you highlight the fact your coworkers are getting paid, essentially, not to work upwards of an hour per day and so should you. If they're paying any sort of benefits for those smokers as well, then it should become quite apparent where revenue's being wasted.

    If they're truly concerned with productivity and wont let you surf the web, text on your phone, play some solitaire, what-have-you; they shouldn't allow smoke breaks either - and I'm pretty sure we can all imagine just how productive smokers would feel like being if you did that.

     

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  12.  
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    lolzzzzz, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 8:43am

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re:

    Think of the fish!

    Smash the the binary! RAWR! . . . I mean *blub, blub, blub*

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    [...]the pet* binary[...]

    -_-

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re:

    It doesn't work for me unless I go to youtube.

     

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  16.  
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    Atkray (profile), Oct 20th, 2012 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re:

    How can I make a $100 million cat video if Google refuses to block all those free cat videos that are infringing on my right to make expensive cat videos?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

    So by extrapolation, viewing images of other cute animals - let's say, for the sake of argument, female humans with not many clothes - would be equally if not more effective.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 1:58pm

    And to think, bob was one of those whining about moar cat videos. What's he going to say now? Techdirt is being paid by Big Cat Video?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 5:06pm

    Re:

    He can't.

    He's just a pussy.

     

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  20.  
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    Aaron Martin-Colby (profile), Oct 20th, 2012 @ 6:00pm

    Work

    No exaggeration, this is one of the reasons why I'm a freelancer. Every, single one of my friends works in a company that tracks computer use. Some to the degree that my friends have received official citations for viewing Facebook.

    All it ever did was breed contempt in the employees. One wonders how many more studies will be necessary.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 8:14pm

    Re: Re:

    And for all the whining he makes about them, just think.

    He'd probably make more by making a video of himself being a pussy. It'd at least be more lucrative than whining?

     

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  22.  
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    Scott, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 10:20pm

    可愛い猫
    cute cats

     

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  23.  
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    Scott, Oct 20th, 2012 @ 10:32pm

    可爱猫 Cute cats

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Dionaea (profile), Oct 21st, 2012 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re:

    You may not have noticed, but the article also mentioned puppy/dog videos and the comment you're replying to doesn't refer to cat videos at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Dionaea (profile), Oct 21st, 2012 @ 6:22am

    Re:

    I think the part about stress is true, but I don't know about the calming effect. I tend to read cute manga oneshots in the morning when I'm in a slump to cheer me up and relieve stress, but the super happy feeling tends to make me hyper instead of clam. Cute cat videos have the same effect on me (but it might be just me XD).

     

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  26.  
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    mischab1, Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 9:33am

    Unfortunately I can only imagine how cute the videos are. Youtube is blocked at work. :-p

     

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  27.  
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    Mick, Apr 4th, 2013 @ 2:42am

    My cat is funny

     

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  28.  
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    Vicki L Geddes, Jun 23rd, 2013 @ 8:19pm

    I agree

    I believe they would http://youtu.be/u1B7BwEiXzI

     

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