Little Headbands Can Boost Cuteness in Mice, Researchers Say

Tiny terrycloth headbands can boost cuteness in mice by nearly 180%, according to a report released Tuesday—but, caution the authors, it’s too early to say how the findings might apply to humans.

The report is published in this week’s issue of The Journal of Clinical Adorability.

Scientists have long speculated that teeny headwear could increase the cuteness of certain animals. Until now, however, no one had bothered to test that hypothesis.

“We were fairly confident we’d find itty-bitty headbands, for instance, would make mice cuter,” said Charlie Gordon, Ph.D., the lead author of the study. “What surprised us was just how powerful the effect would be.”

Mice wearing little headbands, the study found, were 176.6% cuter than unadorned mice. Tiny visors had a similar, but weaker effect. Researchers aborted a trial using little top hats when they discovered the mice wouldn’t tolerate wearing them.

Runners with average or below-average looks might find the study especially interesting, Gordon acknowledged. But he urged restraint.

“We aren’t sure how, or whether, this effect might translate to human subjects,” he said. “For one thing, mice, as a group, are all pretty cute to begin with. And I personally know many runners who are so unattractive, even the world’s cutest headband wouldn’t help.”

Encouraged by the results of this study, said Gordon, his team is already thinking of ways they might build on it.

“Next we might replicate this study,” he said, “but with tiny matching wristbands as well. That’s much more complicated, obviously, since (mice) don’t technically have wrists. I mean, do we put wristbands on the subject’s front legs only? All four legs?”

“Either way, you can imagine it’d be pretty cute.”