It’s true! A new study has shown that looking at cute animal images can put the spark back into your marriage or relationship. Seems viral cat videos and a daily dose of is not only a welcome distraction but good for you to!

The research team at Florida state university wanted to find out whether it was possible to improve marital satisfaction by subtly changing the automatic associations that come to mind when people think about their spouse.

Participants in the study included 144 married couples, all under the age of 40 and married for less than five years. On average, participants were around 28 years old and around 40% of the couples had children.

At the start of the study, couples completed a series of measures of relationship satisfaction and their immediate, automatic attitudes toward their partner were measured.

Each spouse was then asked to individually view a brief stream of images once every three days for six weeks. This stream of images included pictures of their partner alongside cute animal pictures and and positive word images such as puppies, baby bunnies and the words “wonderful.”

Couples in the control group, also viewed the image streams but rather saw their partner’s face matched to neutral images, for example an image of a button).

The research revealed that when people viewed the happy stimulus (such as images of puppies, kittens and bunnies) together with photos of their long term partner, they began to see their partner in a better and more favourably light, which lead to an improvement in relationship quality and overall marriage satisfaction.

The team of researchers however do note that interactions between spouses are actually the most important factor for setting automatic positive associations. However, the say that these new findings could be a way to intervene and adjust couples views of each other as part of marriage counselling or couples struggling in long-distance situations, such as soldiers. Research head McNulty revealed that this was the main reason for the research commissioned by the Department of Defense to help military couples deal with the stress of separation during deployment. McNulty said. “We would really like to develop a procedure that could help soldiers and other people in situations that are challenging for relationships.”

We’ll take any excuse to get our daily dose of cute pets – and bringing back the magic at home sounds like one of the best!


The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.