How do you like to relax and chill out at the end of a long working day? If you find watching cat videos online a great stress-buster then you’re not alone — and now there’s some genuine research to back up the theory that watching these felines do nothing very much is good for our souls.
The scientific findings in question have just been published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior and were authored by assistant professor Jessica Gall Myrick from Indiana University Media School. She found that watching cat clips online could boost energy and happiness levels, so you’re not just imagining the positive effects of queuing up a few pet videos. Around 7,000 respondents took part via Facebook.
“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,” says Myrick, as IFLScience reports. “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.”
The research, which involved a 10-minute survey, found that negative emotions were lower and positive emotions were higher after viewing cat videos. Unsurprisingly, current or past cat owners were found to be more likely to spend time viewing cat clips on the Web. The research also showed that people who saw themselves as shy and agreeable spent more time browsing for cat content.
The study isn’t definitive — the research only covered people who are already likely to like cats or watch clips featuring cats — but experts IFLScience spoke to think the report has value.
“Cats on the Internet are part of the world that we have created for ourselves and that we now occupy and I think it’s limiting of psychologists to not study phenomena that are manifestly part of our psychological world,” said Owen Churches, Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology at Flinders University. “The author’s suggestion that this is potentially a digital pet therapy is quite accurate and quite a sensible link to make.”
And if you do enjoy a cat clip or two, you’ve got a lot of material to choose from: It’s estimated that around 2 million videos featuring felines were on YouTube as of last year.