Jessica Gall Myrick surveyed almost 7,000 people about their viewing of cat videos and how it affects their moods.
“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,” Myrick said.
“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. “As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon.”
There were more than two million cat videos posted on YouTube in 2014, with almost 26 billion views. Cat videos had more views per video than any other category of YouTube content.
In Myrick’s study, the most popular sites for viewing cat videos were Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed and I Can Has Cheezburger.
Of the participants in the study, about 36% described themselves as a “cat person,” while about 60% said they liked both cats and dogs.
Participants in Myrick’s study reported:
- They were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before.
- They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.
- They often view Internet cats at work or during studying.
- The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.
- Cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos.
- About 25 percent of the cat videos they watched were ones they sought out; the rest were ones they happened upon.
- They were familiar with many so-called “celebrity cats,” such as Nala Cat and Henri, Le Chat Noir.
The study was published in the latest issue of Computers in Human Behavior.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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