You just had this super cute baby. They told you your life was going to start revolving around this slobbering little ooey gooey new human. You were skeptical, but you do find yourself staring at this little fleshy munchkin creature every chance you get; you're just so super duper obsessed these days. It's kinda crazy. So you pick it up, toss it in the air, play with it every chance you get. Then, one dark, dark day, you bite it. Whaaaaat? You don’t eat your kid, of course, you just, like, play “This Little Piggy” but with your teeth. That’s not crazy, right?
While some naysayers out there will throw some serious side eye your way, scientists have actually looked into this phenomenon. They call it “dimorphous expressions of positive emotion (or ‘cute aggression’ for those of us without 16 PhDs),” which basically means you want to cause completely innocent bodily harm to tiny things that you find adorable.
So, why do we want to nibble and munch our way through babies, tiny puppies, fuzzy kittens and baby ducks? Well, it could partially be your body going into “protector mode” but mostly it appears to be your body’s way of coping with overpowering emotions.
You get this brief spike of “awwwwwww,” and then minutes later you have leveled back out. It’s essentially a chemical version of polar opposites neutralizing each other. Good thing too, or else there’d be a whole Pomeranian genocide going down right now. No one wants that. Well, maybe people with super serious dog allergies...
According to a summary of the conclusion drawn from the study, these same people who displayed cute aggression would also be more likely to cry tears of joy during happy moments of a movie. So, their emotions fight to level themselves out in all facets of life.
(This woman is checking all of the emotional response boxes.)
Overall, this “cute aggression” response is probably the most healthy way to handle cute cat GIFs. It would be kind of hard to function on a regular basis if every time you fired up your internet browser you turned into a literal puddle of emotion, right?