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.

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Comments on “Study: Viewing Cat Videos At Work Can Make You More Productive”

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MrWilson says:

Re: 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!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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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