Do you ever find yourself watching cat videos, even though you have more pressing business to tend to?
You’re not alone. Internet data show there were more than 2 million cat videos posted on YouTube in 2014, with almost 26 billion views. Cat videos had more views per video than any other category of YouTube content.
What’s the appeal? According to new research, the Internet phenomenon of watching cat videos, from Lil Bub to Grumpy Cat, does more than simply entertain. They also boost viewers’ energy and positive emotions. At the same time, they decrease negative feelings.
“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,” says study author, professor Jessica Gall Myrick, who owns a pug but no cats.
“As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon.”
In Myrick’s study, the most popular sites for viewing cat videos were Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed and I Can Has Cheezburger.
Among the possible effects Myrick hoped to explore: Does viewing cat videos online have the same kind of positive impact as pet therapy? And do some viewers actually feel worse after watching cat videos because they feel guilty for putting off tasks they need to tackle?
Participants in the study reported:
- They were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before.
- They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness than before watching.
- They often view Internet cats at work or during studying.
- The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.
- Cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos.
- About 25 percent of the cat videos they watched were ones they sought out; the rest were ones they happened upon.
- They were familiar with many so-called “celebrity cats,” such as Nala Cat and Henri, Le Chat Noir.
“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.
For each participant who took the survey, Myrick donated 10 cents to Lil Bub’s foundation, raising almost $700. The foundation, Lil Bub’s Big Fund for the ASPCA, has raised more than $100,000 for needy animals.
SOURCE: Not-so-guilty pleasure: Viewing cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions, IU study finds. Press Release. Indiana University. June 2015.
This article was republished with permission from nutri-health.com.
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