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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.
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為什麼有些東西會可愛? (Why Are Things Cute?)

25205 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

影片簡介

你也愛看狗狗和貓咪的影片嗎?每次一看就欲罷不能,恨不得自己去養一隻來抱嗎?其實「可愛」的感受,也是有科學根據的哦!想知道為什麼人會覺得事物可愛嗎?想知道為什麼圓圓的眼睛、短短的比例會帶給你可愛的感受嗎?快來看看影片怎麼說吧!

1elicit1:05
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.
詹姆士試著逗安娜笑。

He elicited the truth from her and found that he has been kept kept in the dark all the time.
他從她那裡套出實話,並發現自己一直以來都被蒙在鼓裡。


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


2offspring1:20
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!

其他相似的詞彙還有:
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.
人們透過歧異的方式保護其後代。

The offspring of this project led to a great success for the whole company.
這個專案的產物造就了整間公司巨大的成功。


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


3instinctively1:22
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.
出於本能地,我為了追尋幸福而來到這裡。

I instinctively chose the path that is more attractive to me.
我直覺地選了那條更吸引我的小徑。

Kathy intuitively decided not to bid on it, for her past experiences taught her that it's dangerous.
凱西直覺上選擇了不要競標,因為她過去的經驗告訴她那是很危險的。

We intuitively believe in God.
我們直覺上地相信神的存在。


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


4trigger1:33
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。

常見的用法如下:
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.
大衛終於決定為他女友買下那枚鑽戒。

Pull the trigger if you dare.
你有膽就扣下板機。

trigger someone off / trigger off someone 激怒
His indifference triggered his girlfriend off.
他的冷漠態度激怒了他的女友。

He's probably trying to trigger everyone off by acting like a jerk.
他大概是試著要透過他的混帳行為來激怒所有人吧!

trigger something off / trigger off something 激起;引爆
The demolition company triggered the bomb off and knocked down the whole building.
拆除公司引爆炸彈,把整棟建築物都拆了。

Showing no remorse to her misbehavior, she triggered off condemnation within society.
她對於失態的毫無悔意,激起了社會的撻伐。

an itchy trigger finger 行動的衝動
Deny couldn't stop his itchy trigger finger from exposing the secret.
丹尼忍不住自己揭發秘密的衝動。

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.
他太好戰,導致每個人都避免與他合作。

My muscles are trigger-happy to swim across the sun moon lake.
我的肌肉都準備好要泳渡日月潭了。


*同場加映:
壞習慣!到底要如何完全戒掉?! (How to Break Bad Habits)


5juvenile4:27
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。

其他還有一些相近的詞彙,在使用時會有不同的解釋:
adolescent (adj.) 青春的;青年的 (n.) 青少年
使用時表示對方正在「愈趨成熟」的路上。
youngster (n.) 青少年;小伙子
較為概括的、不正式的說法,用於任何未成年的人身上。
youth (n.) 青年
介於孩童與成人之間,經常用以表現正面的、青春的意象。
The juvenile court aims to help minors with education instead of punishment.
少年法庭以教育代替懲罰為目標來幫助未成年人。

Stop being juvenile, you're already 40.
別幼稚了,你已經四十了。


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


看完影片後,是不是對於我們大腦認知「可愛」的機制有所了解了呢?不得不佩服大自然在創造這些生物機制時的縝密啊!下次當你情緒沮喪、心情煩躁時,不如去找些寶寶、狗狗或貓咪的影片來看吧!科學證實,可愛的東西的確能讓人感到快樂呢!

文/ Lilian Chang

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