Want To Keep The Spark Alive In Your Marriage? Look At Cute Animal Pictures, Says Study

Feel like something is missing in your marriage? That the spark has gone out and your relationship with your spouse has become monotonous? If you answered yes to both and are looking for a quick fix to bring back the spark to your marriage, looking at cute pictures of puppies and bunnies may help.

Absurd as this sounds, a new study reveals that married couples can keep their relationship thriving and happy by looking at cute animal pictures.

Cute Animal Pictures Bring Back Marital Bliss: Study

A team of researchers from the Florida State University wanted to test out the hypothesis that changing one's outlook toward their spouse can improve the relationship. It is an established fact that positive thoughts and feelings can lead to a better impression of others. However, to test their theory, the researchers used something as banal as pictures of cute furry animals to see if viewing them could induce the same positive feelings toward one's spouse.

For the study, researchers observed 144 married couples. These married couples were made to view a stream of images once every three days for six continuous weeks. The participating married couples were divided into two groups. The control group was shown images of their spouse alongside random pictures, such as a button. By comparison, the group on which the experiment was conducted was shown images of their spouse along with adorable pictures of puppies, baby koalas, bunnies, and similar furry animals.

Cute animal pictures such as those of a bunny help keep the spark alive in married couples. [Image by TashaBelay/Shutterstock]

Prior to the study, each married couple rated their relationship with their spouse and also measured their immediate attitude toward them.

What Did The Researchers Find?

After completion of the experiment, the researchers found that married couples who were shown the image of their spouse in tandem with an adorable animal developed positive thoughts toward each other. The married couples in the control group, however, did not show any substantial change in outlook toward their spouse.

"I was actually a little surprised that it worked. All the theory I reviewed on evaluative conditioning suggested it should, but existing theories of relationships, and just the idea that something so simple and unrelated to marriage could affect how people feel about their marriage, made me skeptical," the study's lead author James McNulty shared.

The Department of Defense funded the study, which was commissioned to help married couples cope with separation and relationship hurdles.

Interestingly, a previous study performed several years ago in Japan revealed that looking at the pictures of adorable and cuddly creatures improved one's work performance. Scientists say that associating such images with a positive outlook is part of the Pavlovian response.

What Is The Pavlovian Response?

Toward the beginning of the 20th century, a scientist named Ivan Pavlov conducted an experiment on his dogs to determine whether the animal's physical response could be conditioned with external stimuli.

Associating cute animal images with positive outlook is part of the Pavlovian response, say researchers. [Image by Lanych/Shutterstock]

He measured the salivary levels of dogs when food was presented to them. Pavlov began experimenting on these dogs by ringing a bell every time before a treat was given. After a while, he noticed that the dogs started salivating when the bell was rung, even though the actual food was not presented to the animals. This associated behavior to the bell is what became known as the Pavlovian response.

The latest study on married couples was also based on the Pavlovian response premise. Basically, the researchers slowly conditioned the group to associate their spouse with positive aspects, such as cute animals in this case.

The research's results were published in the journal Psychological Science.

[Featured Image by CHURN/Shutterstock]