Why Do People Want to Bite or Crush Cute Things?

(Last Updated On: April 17, 2020)

Why Do People Want to Bite or Crush Cute Things?

Maybe you’ve experienced this and don’t want to admit it, or you’re super proud of the fact that you do this. It’s either that, or your friend saw a corgi on Instagram and said it was so cute they wanted to eat it up. So what’s the deal with this? Why do people want to bite, crush, or destroy cute things?

To Bite Cute Things is Paradoxical

Well, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t find the human hunger for the destruction of all things adorable rather strange. But if you haven’t really thought about how weird it is, here you go. Generally speaking, you probably wouldn’t want to destroy something you instinctively also like (and probably want to protect). Pragmatically too, we normally find cute things to also be stuff like babies. It is, generally, within our best interest to not eat babies. For starters, cannibalism is bad.

Further Reading: Why Is Cannibalism Bad For You?

But at the same time, destroying a baby is a terrible waste of resources. That’s, right out the gate, 9 months of pregnancy with all the pain and effort that entails just thrown out the window. Not to mention any effort put into feeding and caring for the baby. Plus, babies are going to one day be functional contributors to society–something that won’t happen if you… eat… a baby.

Evolution supports this too! When you look at a cute thing, your brain throws some dopamine at you. Without going into the rabbit hole of the handful of hormones that make you feel good, suffice to say that your brain is actively rewarding you for looking at and caring for cute things.

Dimorphous Expressions 

If you were to, on paper, just list out all the things someone does when they see a small kitten, it would definitely read very aggressively. Showing your teeth, clenching of your fists, tensing of other muscles, the works. Maybe you say something like “you’re so cute I want to crush you to death.”

On paper this sounds like things will not go well for the baby animal. Of course, we don’t observe on paper, rather in motion. When you watch someone do these things in person, it’s pretty obvious this person doesn’t want to kill a kitten. 

Which brings us to the dimorphous expression. Which, if you deconstruct the term, just means that you express something contrary to what you’re actually feeling. It’s the exact same thing, as when you’re so happy you cry. So uh… Why hasn’t anyone asked that question?

Actually research has been done on the subject.

Emotional Overload Keeps You from Biting Cute Things

So it turns out that the average brain has a really strong reaction to cute things. Perhaps it’s too strong. On a neurological level, it could even be debilitating–so much so that you wouldn’t be able to care for a baby because of how cute it is.

But we need to care for babies. So the theory there is the brain throws in some aggression to temper the “emotional overload.”

Either that, or “aggression” serves more purposes than being mean and eating. Think about it. If you’ve got a dog, they probably bite you for fun. A lot. But you generally understand that they still like you and don’t want to gnaw on your bones (though they might if given the chance?). 

Even some primates engage in the similar aggressive acts around their infants. Some suspect it’s a kind of “forced trust.” Like telling someone they should trust you so hard, they can jam their appendages near your biters and not get bit.

Here are a bunch of cute things. Please do not eat them.

About the Author:

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Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.