What Is Cute?
Cuteness is a wonderful thing. It makes feel good inside, and brings out our finer qualities such as protectiveness, nurturing and self-sacrifice.
Why do we find baby animals (especially humans) so cute?
Simple. They are! Even images, man-made objects or designs can be cute. Look at pokemon or hello kitty.
But really, babies are it.
What makes them cute?
I’ll tell you. Austrian zoologist and ethologist Konrad Lorenz studied this scientifically (wouldn’t you know) sixty-odd years ago.
This is what he declared. Cuteness relates to big eyes, perfect (soft and elastic) skin/fur and a head larger and rounder than an adult compared to the body. He called this set of traits kinderschema.
I think he didn’t include nearly enough qualities to cover it. That’s because he is a scientist.
What about facial expression, behaviour, playfulness, innocence, the way they reaction to situations, their trusting nature? As there are many colours that make white light, so cuteness is a combination of a myriad of elements. And everyone reading this article can add more characteristics of their own.
Cuteness is a perception. The smell of a newborn (well, recently born) baby triggers a gooey feeling, as does a baby’s gurgling. What about when an infant grabs your finger and won’t let go, or (oh, save me) smiles at you.
That’s what cute is. But why do we find cuteness cute?
It appears that cuteness has a lot to do with us wanting to protect the cute one. Certainly the fact that we find our babies cute and want to protect them is a great help in keeping the species going. By now, it is hard-wired into our brains. We all succumb to it.
Even those cold-hearted souls who declare that they don’t see cuteness actually do. Scans show that when anybody is shown a picture of something generally perceived as cute, the ‘cuteness response’ area of their brain lights up.
No-one seems to have asked non-human species what they find cute. It has been put forward that baby animals being cute protects them from predators. I find that hard to believe, except when the predators are us. An article I read some time ago about raising money to prevent extinction said “If you are an endangered species, it pays to be cute.”
Cuteness is as cuteness does.
Being cute is a big advantage for the cute one, but not so great in the scheme of things. I personally would rather have all the extinct native species we have lost rather than the cute pets, strays and cats that became feral and killed them.