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Muna Amry, Catrina White, Derek McClellan, D. Alexander Varakin; With this tilt, I dub you cute: Head tilt increases cuteness in puppies and adult dogs. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1275. doi: 10.1167/18.10.1275.
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Cuteness is a physical attribute of human infants and other animal species that often induces a caring response in adults. Past research on cuteness has focused on physical features of the face and body. The purpose of the current studies is to test whether behavioral features can affect cuteness. The behavior we focused on was head tilt. In Experiment 1, participants (N = 86) viewed a puppy picture on each trial, and controlled the degree of head tilt. In one block, participants were instructed to make the puppy as cute as possible, and in another block to make the puppies' heads vertical. The average head-tilt angle for cute-instructions (M = 13.65 degrees) was significantly further from 0 degrees than the average upright-instructions angle (M = 5.32 degrees), p < .05. A second experiment was a survey that asked participants (N = 236) to rate pictures (1-7) from least cute to most cute. It featured the puppy pictures and pictures of adult dogs displaying vertical heads or tilted heads. Pictures of puppies (M = 5.77) were rated as cuter than pictures of adult dogs (M = 4.40), but head tilt did not have a significant effect for either age group. In a third experiment, participants again controlled head tilt, but the adult dog pictures used in Experiment 2 were used in addition to the puppy pictures. Replicating Experiment 1, the average cute-instruction angle (M= 13.31) was significantly further from 0 degrees than the vertical- instruction angle (M= 4.90), p< .05, and the effect was present in for pictures of puppies and adult dogs. These results suggest that head tilt, when controllable, can increase cuteness of animals that are already very cute (puppies) and those that are less cute (adult dogs).
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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