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Categorization of "kawaii" by the level of infantility <Articles>
"Kawaii" is a Japanese word that is translated as cute in English. This word becomes popular worldwide and is regarded as a key concept characterizing modern Japanese culture. However, the word is used so widely in daily life that it is difficult to define what is kawaii and what makes things kawaii. Ethologists have suggested that baby schema, a set of physical features of baby animals, is a key stimulus to elicit the feeling of cuteness. In this study, we examined the relationship between the feeling of cuteness and the infantility of various objects in a survey of 166 university students. First, we collected 93 animate and inanimate objects that are sometimes described as kawaii. Half of the raters (n = 84) made the cuteness ratings of the 93 items (either words or short phrases), while the other half (n = 82) made the infantility ratings of these items. Consistent with the baby schema hypothesis, the ratings of cuteness and infantility were moderately correlated (rs = .50 and .45 for men and women, respectively). However, there was a cluster of items that were rated as cute but not infant (e.g., smile, accessories, and pastel color), which are probably related to feminine culture. Moreover, women rated various items to be cuter than men did, while no gender difference was found for the infantility rating. The findings suggest that, although the feeling of kawaii is elicited by baby schema and infantility, its scope is not limited to them.
広島大学大学院総合科学研究科紀要. I, 人間科学研究
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