Researchers say human brains can become overwhelmed by cute traits, such as large eyes and small noses, embodied by movie characters like Bambi.
Researchers say human brains can become overwhelmed by cute traits, such as large eyes and small noses, embodied by movie characters like Bambi.

The holiday season is all about cute. You’ve got those ads with adorable children and those movies about baby animals with big eyes.

But when people encounter too much cuteness, the result can be something scientists call “cute aggression.”

People “just have this flash of thinking: ‘I want to crush it’ or ‘I want to squeeze it until pops’ or ‘I want to punch it,’ ” says Katherine Stavropoulos, a psychologist in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Riverside.

About half of all adults have those thoughts sometimes, says Stavropoulos, who published a study about the phenomenon in early December in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. But those people wouldn’t really take a swipe at Bambi or Thumper, she says.

“When people feel this way, it’s with no desire to cause harm,” Stavropoulos says. The thoughts appear to be an involuntary response to being overwhelmed by a positive emotion.

Cute aggression is often baffling and embarrassing to the people who experience it. Stavropoulos says they think, “This is weird; I’m probably the only one who feels this way. I don’t want…