All those cat videos you’ve been watching on the Internet could actually be positively affecting your mood, according to a new Indiana University study.
“One day, it just sort of struck me as I was watching a Lil Bub video that we spend so much time watching these videos, looking at BuzzFeed articles about cats,” says Jessica Gall Myrick, an assistant professor in the IU Media School who studies media effects. “It just struck me that we’re spending so much time on this type of media, but no one has studied how does that affect us.”
It’s no secret that cats are much beloved across the Internet. As of last year, there were more than 2 million cat videos on YouTube, and those millions of videos racked up a total of 26 billion views, so Myrick surveyed nearly 7,000 people about their cat-video viewing habits.
Survey participants reported feeling more energetic, more positive and more productive after watching cat videos.
“For most people, it improved their mood,” she says. “Specifically, they reported after watching Internet cat videos that they felt more hopeful, more positive, more inspired, and they also tended to feel less anxious, less angry — we saw a decrease in negative emotions.”
While Myrick says the study can’t identify if the videos are truly the cause of those feelings, she says people seem to think watching cat videos make them feel better.
She says her survey establishes a good “starting point,” but adds the area needs much more study.
“We could do more research to figure out if this could be some sort of alternative form of pet therapy if you lived in an area where that wasn’t an option, or if you were allergic to animals,” she says.
Myrick says she hopes to further examine how this consumption factors into a larger media diet and how it influences our other online behaviors.
How do you feel after watching cat videos? Let us know in the comments section.