On Thursday, Clinton announced at a fundraiser in San Francisco that she unwinds from the insanity of this election season the same way the rest of America: she looks at cat GIFs.
“It makes you want to turn off the news,” said Clinton, referencing how negative the presidential race had become. “It makes you want to unplug the internet or just look at cat GIFs. Believe me, I get it. In the last few weeks I’ve watched a lot of cats do a lot of weird and interesting things.”
Studies show that when Clinton charges up GIPHY, she’s employing some healthy social psychology. In a study of 7,000 subjects, Indiana University professor Jessica Gall Myrick found that on average people tended to watch cat videos two to three times a week. Regardless of personal variables, the majority of people felt more happy, energetic, and less stressed after watching cats on the internet.
“Practically,” Myrick writes, “these findings … promote the idea that viewing internet cats may actually function as a form of digital pet therapy and/or stress relief for Internet users.”
That means that if you’re getting too much of this:
You’re going to want to look at a bit of this:
Watching cat GIFs is a classic example of mood management theory — the idea that people selective pick specific media content to consume because they know that it will make them happy. But cat content is even more likely to lift your spirits because it plays on the fact our brains are hardwired to enjoy cute animals because they make us think of human babies. And the human brain loves babies.
Besides offering Clinton a little “me time,” watching cat GIFs may come with another hidden benefit: Studies reveal that viewing cute things actually improves one’s concentration for subsequent tasks. Researchers think this goes back to the same idea that animals make us think of babies. When that human baby thought is triggered, the brain is activated to be more careful and safe. All the more reason to get more cat gifs on your feed.