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Hey, Vsauce. Michael here.
And The Pet Collective offers 24-hour coverage of puppies and kittens.
It's really cute.
But what is cute, scientifically?
I mean, why do we like soft, cuddly things
and why do cute things have a unique effect on us?
Well, the word cute is a shortening of acute,
which originally meant "keen," "shrewd," "perceptive."
About 180 years ago, the word cute began to be used as slang for a girl, who was pretty.
And after that, it accrued a new meaning
and was used to describe cuddly, delicate, quaint, precious, youthful traits.
Konrad Lorenz studied cuteness in living things
and put together a great specific list of what we consider cute.
Small body size with a disproportionately large head,
large eyes, and round and soft body features.
But why exactly did these characteristics elicit an "ooooohhh" response from us humans?
Well, Lorenz pointed that you could find all of those characteristics in the human baby,
which makes sense.
If merely looking at our offspring makes us instinctively feel protective and nurturing,
well, that's great for all of us.
A fun consequence of this is that our experience of cuteness
can be triggered by things that aren't human babies.
For instance, shells, bunnies, owls and even a hammer.
A hammer, how can that be?
Take a look at this interactive tool from the Exploratorium.
A hammer is boring.
But if we apply Lorenz's traits and make it really round and really squat,
it goes from a utilitarian tool to a cute little tiny hammer.
Oh, he's just a little hammer, don't hurt him.
It is a hammer that has become cute,
because we gave it qualities that we see in our own offspring.
As Daniel Dennett puts it,
"if human babies looked like this, instead of that, we would find this cute."
And whenever we saw something that looked like it,
we would wanna cuddle and snuggle with it.
Alright, so we have a pretty good idea about the how and what of cute.
But where is cute?
Well, researchers have shown cute baby pictures to subjects
while using functional MRI to track activity in the brain.
And sure enough, the cuter the baby in the picture, the more activation found right here --
the nucleus accumbens. A pleasure centre.
When activated, the nucleus accumbens releases dopamine.
It's all part of our internal reward system.
It's the same part of the brain targeted by cocaine and meth.
Cuteness is such a powerful force on the brain
in fact that it can affect our behaviours -- what we like, what we buy.
And so it's no coincidence that the creators of cartoon characters,
like Mickey Mouse or Pikachu,
have drawn them more and more cute over time.
The Japanese concept of Kawaii is a great example of this
and it's one that's fun to quantify.
If you're an adult, how many of your own heads, stacked on top of each other,
do you think it would take to equal your height?
The answer for most of us is around 7.5.
But illustrations of people that are meant to make them look heroic or noble
tend to make the person around 8 to 8.5 heads high.
Cute goes the other way.
Manga characters tend to only be about 5.5 to 6.5 heads tall.
Back to babies.
There are many other psychological factors at work
that cause us to want to instinctively take care of our young.
And to be sure, some of them are decidedly not cute.
For instance, poopy diapers.
Researchers have found that mothers, when exposed to soiled diapers,
tend to consider the smell coming from their own child's diaper to be the least terrible,
despite not knowing which diaper belonged to which kid.
When something retains juvenile traits all the way through adulthood, it is called neoteny.
And we love it, especially in animals that we keep as pets.
Of course, us humans have selectively bred all kinds of animals
to make each generation more and more useful to us.
But the dog may be the animal that we have spent the most time designing,
making each generation better at hunting or better at staying cuter for longer.
Dogs like this have been designed by us to look, grow and behave in ways that we want.
Not that dissimilar from how we would design, say, a DVD player and its features.
So whether it's staying cute forever or just being a really great hunting companion,
the modern dog, more than any other animal,
could be considered not so much a consequence of nature
as much as it is a piece of human technology.
As Science Friday puts it,
"the dog is man's best friend because it may be man's best invention."
So go pet a cute dog today.
And as always, thanks for watching.



為什麼有些東西會可愛? (Why Are Things Cute?)

26213 分類 收藏
簡簡哲 發佈於 2017 年 9 月 29 日    陳美瑩 翻譯    Mandy Lin 審核



elicit 有「引出;引起;套出 (話)」的意思,同義的詞彙還有 bring out,部分時候也可以用 evoke「喚起;引起」來替換。另外,elicit長得跟以下的字有些像,但意思上卻大相逕庭:

illicit (adj.) 非法的;不正當的
solicit (v.) 請求給予 (金錢、幫助、支持等);徵求 (意見);(妓女) 拉客
James tried to elicit a smile from Anna.

He elicited the truth from her and found that he has been kept kept in the dark all the time.

別讓膚色遮蔽了雙眼 (Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave?)

offspring 有「後代;子孫;幼體 (動植物);產物」的意思,可以用來表示單數或複數。而同義的詞彙 child 則表示單數,並以 children 表示複數,除了大家熟知「小孩」的意思之外,同時也與 offspring 樣有「產物」的用法哦!

descendant (n.) 後裔;兒孫
posterity (n.) 後裔;兒孫
youngster (n.) 小孩;年輕人;幼雛
brood (n.) 一窩 (幼雛);(動物、昆蟲等) 一次產出的一批卵;種族;(蔑)一家的孩子
People protect their offspring in divergent ways.

The offspring of this project led to a great success for the whole company.

我們看到的真的是現實嗎? (Donald Hoffman: Do we see reality as it is?)

Instinctively 的意思是「出於本能地;直覺地」,相似的詞彙有 intuitively 「直覺地;直觀地」。然而,兩個字其實是有些不同的,這邊使用名詞形式 instinctintuition 來比較:

instinct 用來指稱「生理上的本能、直覺」,是身體與生俱來的。
intuition 用來指稱「理念上的直覺」,是透過生長過程中累積而來的經驗及信仰所推及。
Instinctively, I'm here in pursuit of happiness.

I instinctively chose the path that is more attractive to me.

Kathy intuitively decided not to bid on it, for her past experiences taught her that it's dangerous.

We intuitively believe in God.

【TED-Ed】計算機如何翻譯人類語言 (How computers translate human language - Ioannis Papachimonas)

trigger 作為動詞有「扣 (板機);發射;觸發」的意思,作為名詞則是「板機;觸發器」。要注意的是,這個字的原意雖為扣板機,但也被延伸用於各種生活中的情況,表示一個人「挑起戰火、引起摩擦;做決定」等。

pull the trigger (on something) 扣板機;做艱困的、重要的決定
David finally pulled the trigger on buying that diamond ring for his girlfriend.

Pull the trigger if you dare.

trigger someone off / trigger off someone 激怒
His indifference triggered his girlfriend off.

He's probably trying to trigger everyone off by acting like a jerk.

trigger something off / trigger off something 激起;引爆
The demolition company triggered the bomb off and knocked down the whole building.

Showing no remorse to her misbehavior, she triggered off condemnation within society.

an itchy trigger finger 行動的衝動
Deny couldn't stop his itchy trigger finger from exposing the secret.

trigger-happy 好戰的;動輒開槍的;準備好迎戰的
Being such trigger-happy person, everyone avoids teaming up with him.

My muscles are trigger-happy to swim across the sun moon lake.

壞習慣!到底要如何完全戒掉?! (How to Break Bad Habits)

juvenile 作為形容詞的意思是「少年的;孩子氣的;未成熟的;初生的」,作為名詞則表示「青少年;幼雛;少年讀物」。通常在使用時會帶有認為對方「不成熟」的意味,表示對方已經到達成熟的年紀但卻沒有表現出相應的行為。

adolescent (adj.) 青春的;青年的 (n.) 青少年
youngster (n.) 青少年;小伙子
youth (n.) 青年
The juvenile court aims to help minors with education instead of punishment.

Stop being juvenile, you're already 40.

10個致命的自然災害的歷史! (The 10 DEADLIEST Natural Disasters in History!)


文/ Lilian Chang




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