I read an article a while back about the ratio of the eyes to the overall size of the head as it pertains to baby mammals. There is something about that proportion that affects us when we look at it.
It causes a chemical reaction in our brains – serotonin is released. Just looking at babies makes us makes us feel good. This is a biological response that helps us bond with a newborn. Looking into it’s eyes gives us a feeling similar to falling in love.
The interesting thing is that it doesn’t need to be a human baby, any mammal will do. When you think about it it makes a lot of sense. It’s why we visit the shelter and develop “puppy amnesia” – looking into those big eyes makes us forget all about housebreaking, destroyed slippers, and sleepless nights.
Our biology makes them almost impossible to resist. It’s why we smile and coo when we see a baby in a stroller, or why we bend down to pet a puppy on a leash. Our affect changes as does our vocal inflection. We make ourselves approachable and safe.
Our brains don’t have the same reaction when we look at non-mammals, this young emu doesn’t prompt the same feeling. It’s interesting, it’s cute in an ugly sort of way, but I’m not wanting to take it home.
Perhaps all this current political strife could be simply and quickly solved. Instead of attack ads and sound bytes, maybe candidates should just run commercials made up of their baby pictures, or their kids baby pictures, or pictures of random puppies and kittens.
It wouldn’t fix the economy or put us on a path to world peace, but it might make us feel good.