By MASON MCCLAY – CENTO WRITER
“Mason, I swear, if you touch my head one more time…” Such is the usual response I get around this time of year when the stress of responsibilities incites me to relieve tension in obscure ways, such as rubbing the tops of my friends heads. As strange as it sounds, touching people’s heads is a way that I connect with others. My philosophy is if I haven’t touched your head, I don’t really know you. However, the act of petting another organism is seen as much more appropriate and understandable than petting a human, especially when done to a cute, innocent, furry mammal. How do you usually greet a dog? Well, by patting its head or rubbing its back, of course.
Now, the universally inherent positive response of petting an adorable, enthusiastic puppy is embedded in our DNA. The human species has evolved from primates whose social interactions consisted primarily of grooming one another to establish intimate bonds. And yet, as we have lost our troughs of body hair throughout the past few 100,000 years, and as we have begun to domesticate various mammals, we have formed the acceptance of many inter-species bonds. Thus, a sense of love and connection arises when we greet these typically cute animals, and the stress of life begins to fade. Now think- what are Centre student in need of? What comes to my mind is a novel, and yet familiar means of stress relief.
Thus, I voice the collective proposal for an official pet hall: a place for students to go for intermittent periods of time to clear the worried mind and bring a sense of deep kinship into the heart. “A pet hall would be great for students on campus,” first-year Bryce Rowland said. “Not only would it be a great stress reliever for all of the committed students, but if we partnered with the humane society, then we could bring some love to plenty of lonely puppies- and who doesn’t want that?”
There is overwhelming evidence from various psychological studies supporting the effect of cuteness on mammalian effort and concentration. One study in particular, performed by researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan, found that subjects performed twice as better in dexterity tasks after they were exposed to cute images of puppies and kittens than after they viewed less-cute pictures of other, adult animals. The researches concluded that viewing cute images can induce productivity by increasing the feeling of overall happiness that humans associate with cute things, and that it would do us all good to, “…view some pictures at work,” (Nittono). I for one notice this phenomenon on a daily basis. That girl sitting across from me? Yes, she’s cute, and her presence is definitely helping me write this article… I think.
Considering the profoundly beneficial results that cute images produce, it is only logical to expect even greater impacts in happiness and concentration after being exposed to cute animals through other sensory stimuli. Let’s exemplify the sense of touch: Just imagine the touch of a puppy’s extraordinarily soft fur… the concerns of the world seem to melt away even before you stroke the puppy’s cute little head. It is even such a sublime experience that doubt begins to creep into the mind. “How does something this cute exist?” You ask yourself.
The scientist within me must be honest. From a very objective perspective, it is the observer who perceives the animal to be an eleven out of ten on the cute-o-meter. We are, after all, subject to a very influential cuteness-clinging evolutionary mechanism that cannot be halted. Now, why should we fight biology? The urge to surround oneself with cuteness is nearly equivalent to the innate human desire to explore past what appears to be our boundaries. Therefore, not having a pet hall is very similar to being discouraged from studying abroad.
Fortunately, this school is too determined to ignore such an effective path to success. I see it now… Centre College ranked No. 1 Cuteness-Implementing College in the nation.
As I remember orientation week, a series of several words emerge as if they were impressed with the passion that only a puppy can evoke: “…the first thing you will begin to miss will probably be your pet dog or cat…” And if there is one thing that pains me to recall, it is the remedying sense of harmony that flushes over my soul as I look into Sparky’s calm eyes, reminding me that I will- against all doubts and worries- finish my papers, and do well on my tests, and all that I’m really working towards can be found in the peace that is already established in the moment of the loving human and pet interaction.
“I like kittens,” junior Jacob Eads said. “Kittens and puppies help us get better grades because… because they understand us. And we understand ourselves better when we talk to puppies. And because we understand ourselves better, we understand assignments better, and we get better grades.”