Cute aggression: The science behind biting partners, pinching babies

UC professor explains these enigmas of human behavior

What makes a person want to playfully bite an intimate partner, squeeze a puppy or pinch a baby?

Oriana Aragon

Oriana Aragon, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Oriana Aragon, a social psychologist and assistant professor of marketing in the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, has spent the past decade researching “cute aggressions.”

Aragon told Vice these types of expressions are highly dependent on context.

“If you were wanting to bite your partner, with zero context people might not understand that there’s a loving relationship there, or that person is being very aggressive,” she said. “But in that loving relationship, context is provided, and we now understand that this is a signal of affection.”

Cute aggressions are quite common, Aragon said.

“What we found in our original study was that when individuals were feeling this strong sort of adoration and then they showed the ‘cute aggression’, it helped folks to come down off of that very strong emotional experience – there was this sort of ability to help them to regulate their own emotions,” Aragon said. “So, you’re with your partner, you feel this super strong urge that you just need to express, and then you do the bite and it helps you to cleanse yourself and cope with those feelings.”

Read more from Vice.

Featured image at top courtesy of Unsplash.

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