We’ve all seen them — from Lil Bub’s tongue perpetually hanging out of her mouth, to other critters that play Patty-cake, talk like humans, or just walk around looking adorable.
It comes as no surprise to most of us that watching cat videos online can be pretty awesome.
But a new survey at Indiana University has proven it.
Media researcher and assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick found that watching cat videos boosts viewers’ energy levels, and leads to a surge in positivity and the decrease of negative emotions such as anxiety and sadness.
“If it gives you a little boost of energy, and you don’t do it excessively . . . then maybe there are some actual psychological benefits, instead of it just being this complete waste of time,” she told the Toronto Star.
Myrick, who is herself allergic to cats and owns a pug, surveyed 6,827 people about their feelings before and after watching the furry felines online.
While 75 per cent of respondents said they came across cat videos incidentally while browsing the web, a profile emerged of who is more prone to watch, Myrick said: cat owners, people that describe themselves as agreeable or shy, and those that spend more time online overall.
She added that, while many people watch cat videos to avoid doing work, the positive impact of the videos was stronger than any feelings of guilt over the procrastination.
“If you’re watching cat videos because you’re procrastinating, you’re going to feel a little guilty about it, but these videos have such a positive emotional benefit, that seems to sort of override a lot of the guilt,” Myrick said.
While the findings are not very surprising, they may serve as a jumping off point for further research into how popular Internet videos affect peoples’ consumption of other media.
“How does it impact us emotionally, psychologically? Is it taking the place of other types of media? If you feel really happy after watching an online cat video, does that change how you then process the hard news article about policy that shows up next in your Facebook feed?” said Myrick.
“I think, more than anything, it’s just a starting point for some more work on this huge part of our mediated life.”