Friday, August 10, 2012

The "Cuteness Factor"...and Ultrarunning


[image credit and article here]

May as well keep the thread of the last couple days and follow the though of the "Cuteness Factor."

Scientists who study the evolution of visual signaling have identified a wide and still-expanding assortment of features and behaviors that make something look cute.

Scientists who study the evolution of visual signaling have identified a wide and still expanding assortment of features and behaviors that make something look cute: bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait, among many others.

Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can't lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.

The human cuteness detector is set at such a low bar, researchers said, that it sweeps in and deems cute practically anything remotely resembling a human baby or a part thereof, and so ends up including the young of virtually every mammalian species, fuzzy-headed birds like Japanese cranes, woolly bear caterpillars, a bobbing balloon, a big round rock stacked on a smaller rock, a colon, a hyphen and a close parenthesis typed in succession.


To garner empathy while running, I may need to consciously change my projected image while on the trail to emphasize "...bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait...."

I think the teeter-totter gait is my normal locomotion late in a run anyway.

 

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