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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Cute

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Your urge to gobble up those chubby cheeks has an evolutionary purpose

Photo: d3sign/Getty

If you’ve ever had the desire to hug a cute baby or animal , you’re part of the approximately 50% of people who experience what psychologists call “cute aggression.”

A physically enthusiastic response to a chubby one-year-old or a new puppy is just one example of what psychologists call a “dimorphous expression,” or an incongruent display of emotion. Without proper context, these urges might seem puzzling, but recent studies show they not only make sense psychologically, but may also serve as an important protective mechanism.

Oriana Aragon, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Clemson University, became interested in the scientific…

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