Cuteness Factor: How do we perceive cute?

3.7 based on 6 ratings

Updated on May 22, 2013

Grade Level: 10th - 12th; Type: Social Science

This study will examine the qualities attributed to "cuteness". Subjects will be shown images of high and low cuteness then immediately following their emotional and physical reactions will be examined by questionnaire and playing the game Operation to assess motor function.

  • How do perceptions of cuteness differ between males and females?
  • Why would there be differences in the response patterns among males and females?
  • Optional: Does age affect these perceptions?

We often use the term "cute" to describe infants and other baby animals. Being cute usually draws attention as seen with newborns. People want to hold the baby, speak in an infant-directed manner (baby talk), and play peek-a-boo. The human reaction to cuteness is emotional and when used as a marketing tool it appeal to our nurturing instinct. By comparing the cuteness reaction between genders we can provide further evidence for the evolutionary function of cute.

  • PowerPoint, Keynote - slide show presentation software.
  • Operation (Milton Bradley) - sold at most superstores and toy stores.
  • Female and male subjects.


  1. From your background research develop a high cuteness and low cuteness slideshow.
  2. Formulate your questionnaire. This can be modeled from Sherman, et al. 2009.
  3. Choose your subjects. Include both males and females with at least 10 of each from the same age group (i.e. 15-18, 19-25, 26-35). To test the affect of age you can also recruit younger age groups (5-10, 11-14).
  4. Assign half of the participants to the high cuteness group and the other half to the low cutenessgroup.
  5. Have each subject play a game of Operation. Scores are based on the number of organs removed successfully in the time allotted.
  6. Have each subject view his or her respective slideshow.
  7. Following the slideshow have each subject answer the questionnaire.
  8. Have each subject play another game of Operation.

Terms/Concepts: What constitutes cute?; What is the evolutionary significance of our perceptions of cuteness? ; How our emotions affected by cuteness?; Cute Cues; Konrad Lorenz


Melissa Bautista is a research scientist, freelance editor, and writer, with a focus in Neuroscience. She believes in establishing solid foundations in education through experience, creativity, and collaboration. She is fascinated by pedagogy and the concept of learning through living.

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