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Medical Program: So Cute You Could...Crush It?

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So Cute You Could...Crush It?

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So Cute You Could...Crush It?
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  • Overview

    While watching a late night show, assistant professor at the University of Clemson Dr. Oriana Aragon witnessed the strong—almost violent—reaction of actress Leslie Bibb toward a cute, little puppy. And we can’t blame Leslie; we've all experienced this overwhelming emotion of adorableness overload, but what does it actually mean? That’s what Dr. Aragon sought to find out.

    So are you curious about cute? Cuz we sure are!

  • Read the Article

    So Cute You Could…Crush It?

    We’ve all heard someone say something along the lines of “That’s so cute. I just want to crush it.” While yes, it is slightly weird, we can all more or less relate to that, whether it’s pinching a baby’s face, hugging a teddy bear tighter than a wrestling joint lock, or even reading popular children’s stories where wild things yell, “Please don’t go! We’ll eat you up! We love you so!”

    And there’s an obvious pattern here—a pattern that Dr. Oriana Aragon, a psychologist and Assistant Professor of Marketing at Clemson University, explored in her research that would eventually help coin the term “cute aggression.”

    What Is Cute Aggression?

    As its name implies, the term “cute aggression” simply refers to the dimorphous expression of superficial aggression that often occurs when someone sees something cute. But what made Dr. Aragon so dang curious about cute?

    While watching a late-night talk show, she watched the strong (almost violent) reaction of actress Leslie Bibb toward a puppy, which got Dr. Aragon thinking about all the times that we exhibit these kinds of dimorphous expressions. Like when we cry after winning the lottery or after reuniting with loved ones we haven’t seen in a while. Or how we laugh when we’re nervous and look like we’re in pain when we taste a delicious dessert.

    These are all examples of dimorphous expressions, but when it came to her research, Dr. Aragon chose to study expressions towards cuteness because it attracts people’s attention and it elicits a strong, emotional response…and as her research confirmed, that response is typically in the form of aggression.

    Why We Display Dimorphous Expressions…& Why Some of Us Don’t

    Now if you’re reading this thinking, “Hold on, I’ve never had that kind of reaction before…is there something wrong with me?” Well, rest assured that no, there isn’t anything wrong with you nor with those who do experience cute aggression.

    In fact, Dr. Aragon’s research identified a few reasons why some people may express themselves in this way while others don’t, including:

    • The Presence of Strong Emotions: Dr. Aragon’s research found that dimorphous expressions only seemed to appear when people were experiencing particularly strong emotions, so it could be that some people just aren’t experiencing emotions that are that strong.
    • The Ability to Regulate Emotional Expressions: Certain people—such as young children or even those who are really tired—simply have less experience or ability at the time to control what’s happening on their faces, causing more dimorphous expressions to appear.
    • Individual Differences: And lastly, it should come as no surprise that we’re all wired differently, so some people just don’t express their emotions in this way.

    But regardless of why some of us do and why some of us don’t experience cute aggression, what is known is that it isn’t a phenomenon that only occurs here in the United States.

    Cuteness Around the World

    After surveying and finding out that people knew exactly what she was talking about when she brought up these kinds of responses within the United States, Dr. Aragon decided to take her research to the next level and look at cute aggression on a global scale.

    By speaking with experts around the world and looking for phrases or expressions within other languages that indicate what we now know to be cute aggression, such as “That’s so cute I just want to bite it,” “pinch it,” or “squeeze it,” Dr. Aragon found that unlike other habits or behaviors that are learned, cute aggression is spontaneous and isn’t shaped by culture or social norming.

    This proves that this type of dimorphous expression isn’t simply a new trend or something that’s done for fun; cute aggression is a very real reaction to outside stimuli to be explored further, which leads us to…

    What’s Next in the Cuteness Field?

    After coining the term “cute aggression,” Dr. Aragon’s research team is still hard at work exploring what these dimorphous expressions represent and what they communicate across different situations. For instance, when looking at aggressive expressions, they found that there was a momentum aspect to this expression in that people wanted to move, they wanted to go.

    But when Dr. Aragon’s team contrasted that with crying, they found that people wanted to be still and take in that moment. Whether or not it was because they wanted to recover from a sad moment or savor a happy one like winning the lottery or receiving a diploma, there was a stop orientation to it.

    So now, her team is investigating how these motivational orientations relate to not only the brain’s reward system, but also our current understanding of neuroscience.

    These are some of the updates in the cuteness field that we can expect, but in the meantime, do your best to just say you’re going to crush something that’s cute…don’t actually crush it.

     

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  • Overview

    While watching a late night show, assistant professor at the University of Clemson Dr. Oriana Aragon witnessed the strong—almost violent—reaction of actress Leslie Bibb toward a cute, little puppy. And we can’t blame Leslie; we've all experienced this overwhelming emotion of adorableness overload, but what does it actually mean? That’s what Dr. Aragon sought to find out.

    So are you curious about cute? Cuz we sure are!

  • Read the Article

    So Cute You Could…Crush It?

    We’ve all heard someone say something along the lines of “That’s so cute. I just want to crush it.” While yes, it is slightly weird, we can all more or less relate to that, whether it’s pinching a baby’s face, hugging a teddy bear tighter than a wrestling joint lock, or even reading popular children’s stories where wild things yell, “Please don’t go! We’ll eat you up! We love you so!”

    And there’s an obvious pattern here—a pattern that Dr. Oriana Aragon, a psychologist and Assistant Professor of Marketing at Clemson University, explored in her research that would eventually help coin the term “cute aggression.”

    What Is Cute Aggression?

    As its name implies, the term “cute aggression” simply refers to the dimorphous expression of superficial aggression that often occurs when someone sees something cute. But what made Dr. Aragon so dang curious about cute?

    While watching a late-night talk show, she watched the strong (almost violent) reaction of actress Leslie Bibb toward a puppy, which got Dr. Aragon thinking about all the times that we exhibit these kinds of dimorphous expressions. Like when we cry after winning the lottery or after reuniting with loved ones we haven’t seen in a while. Or how we laugh when we’re nervous and look like we’re in pain when we taste a delicious dessert.

    These are all examples of dimorphous expressions, but when it came to her research, Dr. Aragon chose to study expressions towards cuteness because it attracts people’s attention and it elicits a strong, emotional response…and as her research confirmed, that response is typically in the form of aggression.

    Why We Display Dimorphous Expressions…& Why Some of Us Don’t

    Now if you’re reading this thinking, “Hold on, I’ve never had that kind of reaction before…is there something wrong with me?” Well, rest assured that no, there isn’t anything wrong with you nor with those who do experience cute aggression.

    In fact, Dr. Aragon’s research identified a few reasons why some people may express themselves in this way while others don’t, including:

    • The Presence of Strong Emotions: Dr. Aragon’s research found that dimorphous expressions only seemed to appear when people were experiencing particularly strong emotions, so it could be that some people just aren’t experiencing emotions that are that strong.
    • The Ability to Regulate Emotional Expressions: Certain people—such as young children or even those who are really tired—simply have less experience or ability at the time to control what’s happening on their faces, causing more dimorphous expressions to appear.
    • Individual Differences: And lastly, it should come as no surprise that we’re all wired differently, so some people just don’t express their emotions in this way.

    But regardless of why some of us do and why some of us don’t experience cute aggression, what is known is that it isn’t a phenomenon that only occurs here in the United States.

    Cuteness Around the World

    After surveying and finding out that people knew exactly what she was talking about when she brought up these kinds of responses within the United States, Dr. Aragon decided to take her research to the next level and look at cute aggression on a global scale.

    By speaking with experts around the world and looking for phrases or expressions within other languages that indicate what we now know to be cute aggression, such as “That’s so cute I just want to bite it,” “pinch it,” or “squeeze it,” Dr. Aragon found that unlike other habits or behaviors that are learned, cute aggression is spontaneous and isn’t shaped by culture or social norming.

    This proves that this type of dimorphous expression isn’t simply a new trend or something that’s done for fun; cute aggression is a very real reaction to outside stimuli to be explored further, which leads us to…

    What’s Next in the Cuteness Field?

    After coining the term “cute aggression,” Dr. Aragon’s research team is still hard at work exploring what these dimorphous expressions represent and what they communicate across different situations. For instance, when looking at aggressive expressions, they found that there was a momentum aspect to this expression in that people wanted to move, they wanted to go.

    But when Dr. Aragon’s team contrasted that with crying, they found that people wanted to be still and take in that moment. Whether or not it was because they wanted to recover from a sad moment or savor a happy one like winning the lottery or receiving a diploma, there was a stop orientation to it.

    So now, her team is investigating how these motivational orientations relate to not only the brain’s reward system, but also our current understanding of neuroscience.

    These are some of the updates in the cuteness field that we can expect, but in the meantime, do your best to just say you’re going to crush something that’s cute…don’t actually crush it.

     

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