Sunday, October 16, 2016

Science Proves Why Steiff's Petsy Bear Is Truly Irresistible!

Steiffgal's got a very special houseguest this month - an original late 1920's Steiff Petsy bear. He's visiting the Northeast for a few more weeks, then its off to his new forever home in Europe. Early and original Petsy bears hold a unique place in Steiff collector's hearts. Their adorable looks, charming personalities, and distinctly child-like features really are in a class by themselves in terms of Steiff bear designs. All of this got Steiffgal wondering... is there a scientific reason why this might be the case?

All kidding aside, let's first take a closer look at this blue-eyed baby. Petsy is 43 cm tall, fully jointed, and made from brown tipped mohair, which has faded and thinned significantly in this case. His paw pads are made from tan felt. His pert face comes to life with a prominent center facial seam, oversized blue and black pupil eyes, a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth, and proportionally large, wire rimmed ears. His big blue bow, although a delightful accessory, is not original to him. Tipped Petsy had a short, but sweet, appearance in the Steiff catalog, only appearing from 1928 through the very early 1930's. He was made in ten sizes ranging from 15 to 50 cm sitting (or 22 to 75 cm standing.) Tipped Petsy was also produced as a musical Ted in 17 and 20 cm (or 25 and 30 cm standing), on a four wheeled rolling cart in 20 and 25 cm, as a 17 cm puppet, and as a 17 cm purse.

So just what makes Petsy's design so baby-like and absolutely precious? In this case, it's a bit of brilliant business strategy meets science. From the business end of things, Petsy is the vision of Richard Steiff, whose product design priorities and directives in the mid- to late- 1920's included creating colorful patterns with softer, kinder, youthful expressions that reflected the "look and feel" of the roaring, playful 1920's. 

However, few could argue that Petsy is not just appealing, but uber-cute. And that's where the science end of things may help to explain things. According to The Daily Mail's "How It Works" researchers, there is a phenomenon called "baby schema" which makes adults find certain configurations of body proportions on animals, children, and even some inanimate objects absolutely irresistible. From an evolutionary perspective, this may reflect the universal need to care for and protect our youngsters. Seeing cute things also releases dopamine, a neurochemical responsible in part for making us all feel good. Doesn't the cute photo on the left of the puppy and kitten make you smile?

According to scientists, these "cute" features include:

  • A wide, prominent forehead 
  • A proportionally large, round, symmetrical head 
  • Big eyes placed low on the face 
  • Soft textures 
  • Rounded body and features 
Petsy gets an A+ in meeting these requirements. His forehead is quite distinctive, and further emphasized by his center seam. His head is round and absolutely symetrical. His eyes are large, wide, and placed relatively low on his face. His brown tipped mohair is very soft and fluffy, and invites touching. And his chubby proportions and almost completely round ears complete the package. 

But the science of "cute" also has practical implications for Steiff collectors. According to another published study from research conducted in Japan, people did better on tasks requiring focused attention better after viewing cute images - those that met the scientific criteria listed above. The findings of the work suggest that cute things may be used as "an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work."  So, given this is true, Steiffgal suggests always having a dear Steiff friend close at hand to insure you do your very best... and that every day should be Take Your Teddy To Work Day!  

Steiffgal hopes this article helped to add a little dopamine to your day!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.

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