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  • Look at this baby.


  • How does it make you feel?


  • Many people probably feel the urge to cuddle it and swaddle it with love.


  • What about these kittens and puppies?


  • Or even fictional characters, like Mickey Mouse and Star Wars' BB-8?

    それから、フィクションキャラクター、例えばミッキーや、スターウォーズの BB-8 は?

  • We can all agree that they're extremely cute, but why?


  • What makes a baby cute and why do we react to cuteness in the way we do?


  • In the 1940s, the historically questionable Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz set out to expose the mystery of cuteness.

    1940 年代、歴史的には問題人物として知られる、オーストラリアの動物行動学者、コンラート・ローレンツ氏が、かわいさの不思議を解き明かそうとしました。

  • He looked at babies from all over the animal kingdom and came to a conclusionthe Kindchenschema orbaby scheme”.


  • According to Lorenz, there are a set of features that our brains read as CUTE!


  • This includes a large, rounded head, a big forehead, large eyes, chubby cheeks, a rounded body, and soft, elastic skin.


  • Evolutionary biologists working on Lorenz's 'baby schema' thought that thesecutetraits and our response to seeing cute babies might have an evolutionary purpose.


  • To see whether the 'baby schema' was really necessary to make something cute,


  • in 2009, a group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania showed 122 undergraduates pictures of babies and asked them to rate the cuteness of the babies and how motivated they would be to care for the baby.

    2009 年、ペンシルバニア大学の研究者グループが実験を行いました。122 人の学部生に赤ちゃんの写真を見せ、赤ちゃんのかわいさを点数評価してもらい、その赤ちゃんを世話する意欲がどれほどあるか、尋ねました。

  • The researchers manipulated the baby faces so that some followed the 'baby schema' more closely than others.


  • They found that those baby's faces that MATCHED the schema were rated cuter than those who didn't.


  • Furthermore, the subjects were more inclined to care for infants that were rated cuter.


  • Our need to care for our cute infants gives them a better chance of surviving to a reproducible age.


  • Without adults caring for infants, especially in those species whose infants take longer to become self-sufficient, such as human being, the survival chances of the species would be bleak.


  • Hence, this cuteness hardwiring helps us overlook the baby poop, crying and sleep deprivation to properly nurture our young.


  • Our brains are a testament to this evolutionary link.


  • Neuroimaging studies have found that we respond to cuteness at lightning speed.


  • This 'fast response' occurs one-seventh of a second or 140ms after we've been exposed to the source of cuteness.

    かわいさの根源を目にした1/7秒後、つまり、140 ミリ秒後には、この素早い反応が起こります。

  • One brain region, in particular, lights up under such conditionsthe orbitofrontal cortex.

    特に、ある 1 つの脳領域が、そのような状況下で反応します―それが、眼窩前頭皮質です。

  • This region, located in the prefrontal cortex right above and behind the eye sockets, is linked to emotions, reward and pleasure.


  • This might explain why babies seem to grab our attention and never let go.


  • In fact, sometimes we can find something so cute that it could make us a tad bit aggressive.


  • This is what scientists from Yale University proposed in their 2015 paper, calling the phenomenon 'cute aggression'.


  • It's the feeling when you see something so cute that your immediate response is to squish it.


  • Researchers think this aggression is a way of controlling the overwhelming flood of positive emotions that arise from the activation of neural circuits involved in emotions and reward.


  • Because of this slight aggression, the caretaker can actually take care of the baby, rather than be incapacitated by their cuteness.


  • After this fast response, a whole gamut of slower processes are activated that lead to caretaking and bonding.


  • These behaviors are characteristics of parenting.


  • In fact, some research suggests that caring for a child long term can actually change one's brain to be more equipped to care for the child, while also making them more empathetic and sensitive to the emotions of others.


  • However, this isn't only for parents or cute babies.


  • Interacting with cute things might also help us concentrate, boost our empathy and compassion, and make us better people.


  • All of this indicates that responding to cuteness is an innate behavior.


  • However, it is difficult to ascertain how these traits evolved, to what extent they are indeed innate, and how much the environment and culture affect our responses to cuteness.


  • Scientists often use genetics and epigenetics to identify genes that might be linked to developing cute features in babies, but so far, the precise evolution of cuteness remains elusive!


Look at this baby.


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B2 中上級 日本語


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    Miho Ishii に公開 2021 年 02 月 23 日