- 人間科学研究 (ISSN:18817688)
- vol.7, pp.37-42, 2012
In Japan, the word kawaii ("cute" or "adorable" in English) has become difficult to define because it is widely used for describing various objects. This study attempted to find common psychological factors in the feelings of kawaii toward different types of objects. Both male and female university students (N = 180) rated their feelings on six 5-point scales after imagining a scene in which they encountered each of four types of kawaii objects: objects with baby schema (e.g., infants, baby animals), humans (e.g., women, smiles), inanimate objects (e.g., accessories, sweets), and idiosyncratic objects (e.g., lizards, mushrooms). The scales consisted of two adjectives ("kawaii," "infantile"), two scales of approach motivation ("want to be closer to it," "want to keep it nearby"), and two scales of nurturance motivation ("want to help it when it is in trouble," "want to protect it"). Results show that kawaii and infantility ratings were correlated with each other only moderately. Partial correlation analyses revealed that higher kawaii ratings were associated with higher approach motivation, but not with higher nurturance motivation, across four categories. The findings were inconsistent with the baby schema hypothesis, which holds that the feeling of kawaii is linked with caregiving and protection for the young and the weak. Rather, the results suggest that the scope of kawaii is not limited to baby schema and that the feeling of kawaii can be better conceptualized as a positive emotion with strong approach motivation.