What makes Kirby so cute, and why does he make us so happy? In this episode of the podcast, Hammy, Sachin and Marcus discuss Kirby (and other cute characters, besides), to discover the healing power of cuteness.

Kirby is cute even when he’s acting tough

We consider what makes something cute, and why we find things cute in the first place. What is the purpose of cuteness in terms of survival, and as a social tool? How is it similar to the Japanese concept of kawaii? We look at games that use cuteness, and how they appeal to gamers. The new Kirby game, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, combines cuteness with an unsettling atmosphere – does this reflect how we use cuteness to deal with stressful situations? Do we like cuteness because it takes us back to younger, simpler days? We see if depression can reduce our reaction to cuteness, and talk about how people want to look at cute things when they are feeling down. Finally we read about how one cute game, Animal Crossing, has been helping people during these dark times.

We used these sources for reference:
On cuteness: unlocking the parental brain and beyond – academic paper looking beyond the evolutionary psychological view of cuteness
Meaning of “Kawaii” from a psychological perspective – summary chapter on psychological understanding of kawaii
The healing power of virtual cuteness – article by Erica Kanesaka looking at the geopolitical context of kawaii, and how Animal Crossing was a comfort during the pandemic

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