A behavioral science framework for understanding kawaii
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Kawaii is a key concept that characterizes modern Japanese culture. It is often translated into English as “cute," but asubtle difference of nuance exists between the two words. Although many books and articles have been published onthis subject, these discussions are mostly limited to the fields of humanities and sociology. In this paper, I put forward aframework for research on kawaii from a behavioral science perspective. First, I provide an overview of kawaii,including a summary of its dictionary meaning, history, and current usage. Then, I report the results of three surveys ofJapanese university students about their attitudes toward the word kawaii and kawaii things. Based on these findingsand past research, I propose a two-layer model of kawaii. This model postulates that the basis of kawaii is a positiveemotion related to the social motivation of protecting and nurturing others, which originally stems from affectiontoward babies and infants. It also assumes that this culture-independent, biological trait has been amplified by certaincharacteristics of Japanese culture. I conclude by discussing future directions for behavioral science research of kawaii.
The Third International Workshop on Kansei; February 22 and 23, 2010; Seminar room 1 & 2, ACROSS Fukuoka, Fukuoka-city, Japan
Proceedings of The Third International Workshop on Kansei
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Editorial comittee of the third international workshop on Kansei
Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences