Calibrating pipettes, aligning lasers and sorting through plankton can be arduous work, so a group of scientists decided they'd had enough. It was time to do some 'real' research: Are cat videos really the emotional regulators the world heralds them to be?
One scientist was brave enough to find out: assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick from Indiana University Bloomington. She embarked on an epic survey of over 6,500 people to find out if watching cat videos really does improve your mood.
"Some people may think watching online cat videos isn't a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it's one of the most popular uses of the Internet today," Myrick said. "If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can't ignore Internet cats anymore."
Myrick, who owns a pug but no cats, added: "We all have watched a cat video online, but there is really little empirical work done on why so many of us do this, or what effects it might have on us. As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon."
News accounts suggest that many people watch cat videos online to avoid work or to put off unsavory tasks. This can unfortunately cause people to associate cat videos with guilt, even if they're watching them during their free time.
However, Myrick's research suggests that the pleasure you derive from watching cat videos can often outweigh the guilt of procrastination.
"Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward," Myrick said.
So, if I'm reading into this correctly, watching cat videos makes you work harder? Fortunately, more work needs to be done! The sample size selected wasn't a thorough representation of the internet: Most of the test takers were female (88.4%), so there's still the possibility that men in general respond differently to cat videos.
Here at IFLScience, we are advocates of good, honest research. So I'm going to guide you through your own mini cat-video experiment.
Make a conscious analysis of your mental state at the moment: maybe you're feeling lethargic, sad that lunchtime is over, or angry that anyone would even bother researching this topic.
Now, watch this cat video.
Cat video and great work motivator
Take another moment to reflect on your mental state: Are you feeling elated? Is your pleasure outweighing your guilt at procrastinating?
If not, then I suggest you look at the rest of these videos. You know, for science.
Cats demand petting from their owners
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