As per a new study, the Internet phenomenon of watching cat videos not only entertains people, but also boosts viewers’ energy and positive emotions and decreases negative feelings.
Indiana University Media School study surveyed almost 7,000 people about their viewing of cat videos and how it affects their moods.
Researcher Jessica Gall Myrick said that 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 added that if people want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on them as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore.
Among the possible effects Myrick hoped to explore: Does viewing cat videos online have the same kind of positive impact as pet therapy? And do some viewers actually feel worse after watching cat videos because they feel guilty for putting off tasks they need to tackle?
Participants in Myrick’s study reported that they were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before. They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before. They often view Internet cats at work or during studying.
The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating. Cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos. About 25 percent of the cat videos they watched were ones they sought out; the rest were ones they happened upon. They were familiar with many so-called “celebrity cats,” such as Nala Cat and Henri, Le Chat Noir.
Overall, the response to watching cat videos was largely positive. Myrick added that the results also suggest that future work could explore how online cat videos might be used as a form of low-cost pet therapy.
It is published in the latest issue of Computers in Human Behavior.