Researchers Hope to Prove Surfing Web for Cute Animal Photos Makes Workers More Productive
A lab at the University of Tulsa is set to conduct a study that will test whether taking breaks to consume adorable animal photos helps reduce work stress or not
Keep browsing for adorable puppy photos — your boss should welcome the potential productivity booster.
Jennifer Ragsdale, a University of Tulsa professor who studies industrial-organizational psychology, and her research team is hard at work trying to prove that consuming the occasional (or overload of) cute animal pictures can actually help improve your work ethic, rather than serve as a distraction.
“Cyberslacking and cyberloafing are seen as deviant work behavior, whereas I’m trying to figure out if it has some beneficial work effect,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
To test her hypothesis, Ragsdale said she plans to put 150 participants into stressful work situations, trying to complete assignments while also being bombarded with messages from stand-in coworkers.
Each third will take breaks from the simulated stressors and engage in different relievers — one group will work on a puzzle, another will meditate, and the lucky third group will view a series of über-cute animal photos.
Participants will then, according to WSJ, rate their stress levels to help the scientists better determine which improves work performance.
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“It would be nice to tell my boss, ‘Hey, looking at cats makes me more productive,’ ” one of the researchers, Kirby Hockensmith, told the outlet.
To compile the log of cute pictures, the team had respondents rate a series of photos on a scale of 1 to 100 in terms of adorability. The researchers then filtered through the crop of highly rated options, whittling down to ones they agreed were sufficiently sweet but not distractingly overbearing in cuteness.
It proved to be a contentious decision-making process, according to one member of the team, Madison Keith.
“It was relaxing in the sense we got to look at the pictures, but it was stressful when people disagreed,” she told the WSJ. “I don’t think it evoked the relaxing experience we’re hoping to evoke in the study.”
Until the completion of the potentially multiyear-long study, employees can just assure any managers that their periodic kitten video–watching is a necessary component for a successful work environment. It’s science, after all.