If you loved "Surprised Kitty" or "Sneezing Baby Panda" on YouTube but quickly opened another Internet browser at work so it didn't look like you were slacking, you can come out of the closet, cute animal lovers.
Yes, you can has cheezburger.
A new study out of Japan (of course. Hello, kitty.) shows that looking at cute animal pictures can actually improve a person's productivity at work.
The idea, is that their tiny faces, doing supercute things, trigger a care-giving impulse in humans, much like seeing babies. This encourages friendliness and can even boost productivity in tasks that require focus. You know how people slow down their speech when talking to a child? Yeah, it's kind of like that.
How did they test this theory, you say?
The researchers from Hiroshima University, had about 50 college students perform tasks that required concentration, like removing tiny items from a hole using Tweezers. (Which, Live Science observes, is essentially playing Milton Bradley's board game "Operation.") Some of them were given cute animal pictures to view before their task. You know what's coming next: The students shown the cute animal pictures performed better.
They tried pictures of pleasant foods and a whole bunch of other stuff but nothing was a match for cute animals.
"Kawaii [cute] things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior, " lead researcher and cognitive psychologist Hiroshi Nittono wrote in the team's research paper. "This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus."
They not only concluded that cute animal pictures could help productivity at the office but also driving.
So, the next time the boss catches a bunch of co-workers huddled around your desk looking at kittens in superhero capes flying to a rap soundtrack, just look up and say, "You're welcome! This is going to be HUGE for productivity."
Here, try some of your own research with these Flying Kitties in Capes: