Surely it will have happened to you with your baby, or with other people’s babies (and even before having children) to have that feeling of “I would eat him with kisses”. It is not only an emotional behavior, but there is scientific evidence behind it that explains why we have that reaction and how it helps us to be better parents.
When we see our baby, we melt with love for that being that we have created and gestated. It seems like a miracle to have him in our arms now, so small, so perfect… It is difficult to describe in words the feelings that he awakens in us, a love that overflows from our chest.
a matter of survival
We see them so cute, so perfect, with their expressive eyes, their small noses and mouths, those little round feet… How could we not want to eat them!
These compulsions are part of an evolutionary bonding mechanism and signify positive emotions and healthy attachment , as well as helping us lower our stress levels by releasing pent-up energy and emotional overload.
In the 1940s, the ethologist Konrad Lorenz coined the term “kinderschema” or “infant schema” or “baby schema” to describe the traits of the very young. According to his theory, the tenderness aroused by a baby activates the nurturing and caring behavior of adults , which in turn guarantees the survival of the babies.
It occurs more in women
Studies show that women tend to be more interested in babies and caregiving activities than men. Based on this, the scientists hypothesized that women would have a greater response to the baby scheme than men, even without having children, and carried out a future study to find out the causes.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map their brain activity, the researchers were able to see that regardless of whether the women were the babies’ mothers, the baby’s superior schema activated the mesocorticolimbic system, which is the neural network associated with reward.
The scientists surmised that perceiving infants as “cute” presents a positive incentive, through increased dopamine, which provides the motivational drive for caring behavior. This engagement of the mesocorticolimbic system demonstrates a biological basis for human care by providing a neurobiological explanation for why we feel the need to care for anything that resembles a baby.
Why do we want to “eat” them?
But what does this have to do with the feeling of wanting to “eat” our baby? In 2015, Yale University researchers Oriana Aragón and Rebecca Dyer determined that too many cute stimuli (in this case, the baby’s schema) trigger an aggressive reaction, or opposite expression.
It is a form of pretty aggression , or “dimorphic expression”, when a large number of positive emotions provoke expressions normally associated with negative emotions.
In their first study, participants were shown pictures of precious babies that overwhelmed them with positive feelings and made them reveal aggressive expressions such as cheek pinching and “eating.”
“When you see something that is unbearably cute, you have this very positive reaction,” said lead researcher Oriana Aragón. “These feelings become overwhelming, and for some reason tenderly, the ‘dimorphic expression’ shifts to clenching of teeth, clenching of fists, and the assertion of aggressive statements such as ‘I want to eat you.'”
Basically, when we feel such intense joy, it manifests as a violent impulse .
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