Log in

No account? Create an account

Science: The Cute Factor

Today's New York Times has an article on The Cute Factor (registration probably required), about why humans find certain features and behaviors cute:

...many Floridians have an enormous affection for the manatee, which looks like an overfertilized potato with a sock puppet's face...
Tags: ,


I read an interesting article a few years ago -- it may have been in Discover -- about the evolution of teddy bears toward cute. Now I haven't read the NYT article, but the one I read pointed out how over the years that teddy bears have evolved toward a layout with a larger head and smaller body/limbs. Basically, body structure more like an infant.

What they realized is that the teddy bear structure has evolved to appeal to the purchasers, not the recipients.

When they asked kids to pick among "modern" bears, and bears with a more "classic" structure, up until about age 13 or so, there was no standout difference. However, from about 13 onward, people overwhelmingly chose the bears with the more "infant-like" proportions.

I guess what can be inferred from this is that if any animal wants to escape extinction, all it has to do is evolve toward a more infant-like set of body proportions. Megaencephalopathy, I guess, could become a survival trait.
This makes me think of a short story I read somewhere (name, author, and publication all gone from my head, but it was print) about some Barney-like show that sent subliminal messages to kids to stay small, not grow.
I read that too, though I thought I read it on-line. Hmm. Now it will drive me crazy until I remember it.
I think it must be "Toobychubbies" from Nina Kiriki Hoffman's anthology, _Time Travelers, Ghosts, and Other Visitors_.
Yes, that's it. Thank you; it would've bothered me all day.
I remember that article! Now I just wish I could remember where I saw it as well.

Also, If I recall correctly, Stephen Jay Gould once had an article about the biological concept of "neoteny," in which development of later species actually appears arrested as compared to earlier species. So an adult human, for example, shares more characteristics with an infant ape than an adult ape. Gould also talked about the evolution of Mickey Mouse towards more cuteness.

If you happen to track down that article, let me know.

"The perils of human selection: it hasn't been a teddy bears' picnic -- 'natural selection' in teddy bear marketing -- Up Front", Discover, Dec, 1986.
That looks very familiar; but my memory is telling me of another, even longer article on the other subject. (Of course, my memory could be playing tricks on me.)

Thanks for the link!
You might try asking google or google scholar about Hinde and Barden, the authors of the original study.

December 2016

Powered by LiveJournal.com