Lennie from ‘Of Mice and Men’ might have something to add to this conversation.
About a week ago, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology released a study explaining that the reason we feel like we want to squeeze cute things is because the sight causes built-up aggression. So when you’re seeing a picture of a cute dog or a fluffy cat or even a person you find unbelievably adorable, your brain is forced to become really aggressive and you might want to squeeze them to death. The cuter the thing you’re looking at, the more frustrated and angry you become.
Popular Science had this to say:
The study’s researchers, led by Rebecca Dyer, a graduate student in psychology at Yale University, dubs the phenomenon “cute aggression.”
“We think it’s about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control,” she said. It’s so adorable, it drives you crazy.
We all know the feeling, right? I’ve certainly grabbed and squeezed my fair share of little dogs in my time. I always thought it was some kind of impulse to protect them (like, scoop them in your arms and hold them tight) and also to get them closer to your heart (because you love them so intensely). That’s what it always feels like I’m doing when I’m overcome by a cute animal.
It’s not just animals we feel this “cute aggression” towards. These are things I’ve actually said to my current boyfriend in a romantic setting:
“You’re so cute I just want to squish your face until it pops.”
“I want to crawl inside your skin and hug each of your organs individually.”
“I want to squeeze you until all your bones break because I love you so much.”
I’m not the only one. There’s a quirky greeting card company called “Uncooked” that has “love” cards I always found really relatable. One says, “You’re so cute I want to yank off your head, stick it in a jar and keep it next to my computer.” They used to have one I can’t find right now that said something like, “I love your face so much I want to rip it off and nail it to my wall.” Obviously I’m not Hannibal Lecter so I don’t really mean it, but the sentiment is true.
The study says that people are so overcome they can’t actually handle how this fluffy or adorable thing is making them feel. There’s no proper outlet for the emotions. For example, I find my boo so UNBEARABLY too cute I literally need to die/I don’t know what to do with myself. PopSci said:
Another possibility is that it’s just too much of a good thing — sometimes we portray an onslaught of positive emotion in a negative way, like when you’re so happy you cry. Dyer speculates that giving positive emotions a negative spin might help us regulate that high energy.
However, some of the commenters over at PopSci disagree with this study, and are totally freaked out by the idea that “cuteness” causes aggression. They’re speculating that the participants in the study were prisoners and telling each other to stay away from their little dogs. Er, so maybe this isn’t such a common reaction?
I don’t know. Might be totally psychotic that I relate to this study. But just…let me hug your puppies and kitties?