By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TVBy Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Do you ever look at a picture of an adorable puppy and think ‘I could just eat him alive?’

If you do, you suffer from a phenomenon called “cute aggression” and there may be an evolutionary reason.

Many of us feel the urge to pinch, bite, or squeeze a baby animal or human baby, for that matter, whom we think is just too cute for words. And now we know this is likely due to how our brains are wired.

In a study, a researcher at the University of California showed dozens of people photos of animals. They found that they were more likely to feel overwhelmed by a desire to hold and care for the cute baby animals compared to the not-so cute adult animals. And there was increased activity in the reward and emotion areas of their brains.

The researcher says that if you are so overwhelmed by how cute something is, you may become incapacitated, causing you to say things like “She’s so cute, I can’t stand it” or “I just want to die.”

So perhaps we have evolved to want to squeeze, grab, or bite a cute baby to keep us from being paralyzed by emotion and allow us to continue to care for them.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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