Indiana Daily Student

IU study finds watching cat videos boosts positivity

Lil' Bub is a celebrity cat who gained popularity due to her odd appearance.  The cat and her owner, Mike Bridavsky, both reside in Bloomington.
Lil' Bub is a celebrity cat who gained popularity due to her odd appearance. The cat and her owner, Mike Bridavsky, both reside in Bloomington.

With 4,290,361 views on YouTube, the video titled “FOUND FOOTAGE of an 8 Week Old Baby BUB” may be an indication of just how much the Internet loves cat videos.

But Bloomington native Lil BUB isn’t the only Internet cat sensation.

A recent study by IU Media School assistant professor Jessica Myrick shows that all that cat watching can be good for you.

Watching Internet cat videos can boost a person’s energy and positive emotions and decrease their negative feelings, according to an IU press release.

The study surveyed nearly 7,000 people about their cat video viewing habits and how they thought it affected their personalities.

Lil BUB’s owner, Mike Bridavsky, even helped spread word of the study via social media, according to the release.

The study was recently published in the journal “Computers in Human ?Behavior.”

In the release, Myrick said the topic, though it may seem frivolous to some, is important in understanding the way the Internet works in today’s culture.

“Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it’s one of the most popular uses of the Internet today,” Myrick said. “If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore.”

Data shows there were more than 2 million cat videos posted on YouTube in 2014, according to the release. That includes the video of baby BUB, which was published in January 2014 and boasts more than 16,000 likes and 1,815 comments.

“We all have watched a cat video online, but there is really little empirical work done on why so many of us do this, or what effects it might have on us,” Myrick said in the release. “As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon.”

Among the most popular websites for viewing cat videos are Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed and I Can Has Cheezburger, according to the release.

Of the nearly 7,000 participants in the study, around 36 percent described themselves as a “cat person,” while 60 percent said they liked both cats and dogs.

Participants in the study reported they were more energetic and more positive after watching cat-related online media, they had fewer negative emotions after watching the cat-related online media, they often view Internet cats at work or while studying and the positive feeling after watching the media was more than the negative feelings produced as a result of procrastinating.

“Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward,” Myrick said in the release.

The study also raised funds for Lil BUB’s foundation, Lil BUB’s Big Fund for the ASPCA. Myrick’s study raised nearly $700 for the foundation, according to the release.

The study has gained national attention and was featured in USA Today, the Huffington Post, the United Kingdom-based Daily Mail, CBS News and New York Magazine.

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