You knew watching videos of puppies and kittens felt good but now there’s data to back that feeling.
A study conducted by the University of Leeds within the UK, in partnership with Western Australia Tourism, has found evidence to suggest that watching cute animals may contribute to a discount in stress and anxiety.
The study examined how watching images and videos of cute animals for half-hour affects vital signs, pulse, and anxiety.
Dr. Andrea Utley, a professor at the University of Leeds, put together the 30-minute montage of the lovable critters.
“There were some kittens, there were puppies, there have been baby gorillas. there have been quokkas. you recognize — the standard stuff that you simply would expect,”.
The quokka, an adorable creature found in Western Australia, is usually mentioned as “the world’s happiest animal.”
The sessions, conducted in December 2019, involved 19 subjects — 15 students and 4 staff — and was intentionally timed during winter exams, a time when stress is at a significantly high level, particularly for medical students, consistent with Utley.
In all cases, the study saw a vital sign, pulse and anxiety go down in participants, a half-hour after watching the video.
The study recorded that average vital sign dropped from 136/88 to 115/71 — which the study acknowledged is “within ideal vital sign range.” Average heart rates were lowered to 67.4 bpm, a discount of 6.5%.
Anxiety rates also went down by 35%, measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, a self-assessment method often utilized in clinical settings to diagnose anxiety, consistent with the American Psychological Association.
“I was quite pleasantly surprised that in the session, every single measure for every single participant dropped some — pulse reduced, vital sign reduced,” Utley said. “When they left, they filled the questionnaire in again and indicated that they were feeling less anxious.”
When questioning the participants, the study found that the majority preferred video clips over still images, particularly of animals interacting with humans.
Utley hoped to conduct eight sessions in total but was forced to postpone thanks to coronavirus restrictions. She acknowledges it’ll likely not be until next year that more sessions are often conducted face to face. Until then, she’s exploring online options to stay the study going.