Cute things most definitely have an inherent quality or power which makes them enticing and captivating to humans. Beatrice Marovich’s article, “The Powerful Authority of Cute Animals” suggests “that there’s something in this alleged power that seems to leave animals vulnerable to becoming talismanic”(Marovich 4). Society’s domestication and reliance on animals has moved us to associate positive, cheerful, and safe thoughts with our pets—making them forever cuddly and cute. I believe part of our human attraction to cuteness can be contributed to the instinctive human desire to nurture and protect the innocent. When encountering something which is young, harmless, and pure, we as humans are instantaneously transferred to a state of guardianship and delight. We are sensitive to cute things because they invoke our own sensitive feelings. In this way, our designation of an object as cute is could exist as a result of propelling of our own identity and desires outward.
In Gergana Y. Nenkov and Maura L. Scott’s article, “’So Cute I Could Eat it Up’: Priming Effects of Cute Products on Indulgent Consumption” they state that “cuteness leads to behavioral carefulness , as one is primed to protect and care for a vulnerable and innocent entity”(Nenkov and Scott 3). But, why is it also possible for us to ascribe qualities of cuteness to inanimate objects as well? We cannot fully protect a stuffed representation of an elephant, because it is not alive and never has been. Yet a stuffed animal may be deemed as a cute child’s toy, perhaps because it is a representation of something that is a live, and has been anthropomorphized.
As humans it is easy for us to associate cute things with giggles and pleasure, yet the grotesque can appear automatically averse to us and is associated with negative things like gagging or fear. This could be due in part to the conventionally shallow ideal that the exterior of an object is bound to match the interior. Eerie creatures may give us the creeps because we assume them to be evil or threatening, due to their repugnant looks. We can internally designate things as cute or not cute depending on our own needs and fears, so “cute stimuli prime mental representations of fun, which leads to an enhanced focus on approaching self-rewards…”(Nenkov and Scott 4). Cute things are captivating in that they represent charm and gratification for us; unattractive things are unsightly for us—visually and also emotionally due to their links to unpleasantness.