Cats seem to dominate the internet, but does looking at Grumpy Cat actually make you feel better?
Don’t be so quick to say “yes, obviously.” People love cat videos and, in fact, cat videos consistently have one of the highest views per category on YouTube. But while it may be taken for granted that looking at cute animals improves mood, researchers have wondered whether looking at cats when we’re supposed to be doing something else makes us feel guilty for procrastinating. So you see, the answer is not as obvious as it might seem at first.
I’ll let the title speak of the relevant paper speak for itself: “Emotion regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online: Who watches Internet cats, why, and to what effect?” It was published in 2015 in the journal Computers in Human Behavior and its keywords are relevant to my interests: Internet use, guilty pleasure, procrastination, enjoyment, social media, and cats.
Jessica Gall Myrick, a professor of media studies at Indiana University Bloomington, surveyed 6,795 people with questions on whether they viewed these “Internet cats,” when, why, and how it made them feel.
The results were good: yes, people did tend to view “internet cats” during work or while studying, but they felt better after looking at them. And, crucially, the happiness caused by the cat outweighed the guilt of procrastinating. Unsurprisingly, cat owners and people who rated more highly in personality traits like shyness and agreeableness were more likely to watch cat videos.
So, go forth, and watch videos without guilt. Might I suggest this one?