The winner of the Internet definitely is the cat. Anyone familiar with social online media can attest to the fact that cat videos (and pictures, for that matter) have invaded all of them; Facebook itself has so many Pages dedicated to the felines only. Well, guess what researchers have recently found out! Assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick performed a study and concluded that watching cat videos can boost one’s energy, stimulating positive emotions, while lowering one’s tendency to negative ones. The findings have been published in Computers in Human Behaviour.
You would be surprised to hear of the statistics of cat videos online. Over 2 million such videos were posted on YouTube last year, resulting in around 26 billion views. The videos even had more views per video than any other video category.
Researcher Jessica Gall Myrick carried out a survey with around 7,000 participants to glean data about how watching cat videos affects their moods. Lil Bub’s owner, Mike Bridavsky (whose Facebook page dedicated to the cat named Lil Bub has gained quite some popularity by now), used social media to help with the survey. The platform for watching the videos were Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed and I Can Has Cheezburger.
Myrick wanted to find out whether watching cat videos generated effects similar to those of pet therapy.
Around 36 % of the participants alleged being “cat persons”, while about 60 % claimed liking both cats and dogs.
“Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it’s one of the most popular uses of the Internet today,” Myrick said. “If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore.
“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,” added 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.”
Upon responding to the questions in the survey, the participants said they felt more energetic and positive after watching cat videos online. Furthermore, negative emotions such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, had decreased afterwards. As such, they said that they would watch the videos at work or while studying. The pleasure derived from this activity overshadowed any feeling of guilt about procrastination.
It was also found out that people with cats as pets and companions as well as those with certain personality traits (agreeableness and shyness) were more likely to indulge in cat videos.
Also, only 25 % of the cat videos watched were actually looked up by the participants while the rest were ones they had stumbled upon. All goes to say that the cat has indeed won the Internet: the videos are everywhere, and in great numbers, such that one is bound to find them while scrolling down social media pages. Cat celebrities like “Nala Cat”, and “Henri, Le Chat Noir” are very much famous – the participants claim to be familiar with the names.
“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.
Also, Myrick donated 10 cents for every participant who took the survey, resulting in $700. The money went to Lil Bub’s foundation, Lil Bub’s Big Fund for the ASPCA which has raised over $100,000 for needy animals.
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