Looking at cute puppies could rekindle the spark in your marriage, according to science


When you see a picture of an cute puppy or bunny, do you immediately think of your spouse? Probably not. But according to science, you should. A new study shows that associating cute animals with your partner could give your marriage that “spark” again. OK, we’re listening.

According to the study, which is published in Psychological Science, the process of positive association is similar to the conditioned response illustrated in Pavlov’s dog experiment. In Pavlov’s experiment, because the dog had heard the bell and then been fed immediately after, the dog began to salivate just after hearing the bell. There was a positive association of food with the sound of the bell.

walking a dog photo
Getty Images | Peter Macdiarmid

Well, a similar kind of thing can be done with your spouse. When you see an image of something fluffy and adorable, you can automatically think of your spouse. All it takes is a little training.

“One ultimate source of our feelings about our relationships can be reduced to how we associate our partners with positive affect, and those associations can come from our partners but also from unrelated things, like puppies and bunnies,” the study’s lead author, James K. McNulty of Florida State University McNulty, explained.

dog photo
Getty Images | Oli Scarff

During the study, groups of couples were shown images every three days for six weeks. The experimental group saw photos of their partner’s face mixed in with positive images. Another group looked at only neutral images mixed in with their partner’s faces.

The end result? “Participants who were exposed to positive images paired with their partner’s face showed more positive automatic reactions to their partner over the course of the intervention compared with those who saw neutral pairings,” according to the study.

dog photo
Getty Images | Claire Greenway

And this phenomenon can easily be recreated (albeit in a less scientific environment) at home by viewing pictures of puppies and bunnies with your partner. That way, you can begin to positively associate your significant other with these cute little animals.

Reddit is definitely a great source for viewing adorable animals, so if you’re not already subscribed to the r/aww subreddit, we suggest you check it out!

Of course, there is also an endless supply of puppy videos available on YouTube. So there will never be a shortage of animal videos in your relationship—and according to science, that could be a very good thing.

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRf3-JkwqfU” /]

The more you equate darling little animals with your spouse, the more positively you’ll think of him or her—and the better you’ll get along, at least according to this study.

So instead of another dinner-and-movie date, make it dinner and adorable animal videos, as that could be the key to marital bliss. Hey, it’s worth a try, right?


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About the Author
Augusta Statz
I have a B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I’m an avid writer with a genuine sense of curiosity. I feel the best way to absorb the world around you is through fashion, art and food, so that’s what I spend most of my time writing about.

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