Feeling guilty about watching cat videos at work? Don't be. Science is here to tell you it's OK.
A recent study has found that being exposed to something funny while on the job can actually make you more productive. So feel free to boost your work output by watching this cat chase a duck while riding a Roomba in a shark costume.
In a paper published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, a study involving 124 students from a large Australian university found that when they were given a boring task and then exposed to funny videos, they worked twice as long as those who watched videos about neutral subjects.
The study found that humor can have an energizing effect while trying to conquer a task, which means you can tell your boss that watching this cat fight a DVD player is helping your productivity.
"Humor is not only entertaining but also replenishing,'' the study found. "Individuals engaging in activities that require persistence may benefit from exposure to humor. Therefore, organizations that require their employees to persist may consider creating a playful culture that encourages the use of humor to increase employees’ persistence."
The study was conducted by psychological scientists David Cheng and Lu Wang of the University of New South Wales, who found that taking a humor break can help productivity. They gave students a boring task of crossing out the letter "e" in two pages of text, with one group assigned to watch a video from British comedy "Mr. Bean," and the other watching a video of dolphins swimming.
The students were then asked to complete a persistence task that a computer software program intentionally made impossible to complete. The students who watched the "Mr. Bean" video were more persistent in trying to finish it than the other group.
“Although humor has been found to help relieve stress and facilitate social relationships, the traditional view of task performance implies that individuals must concentrate all their effort on their endeavors and should avoid things such as humor that may distract them from the accomplishment of task goals,” the study concluded. “We suggest that humor is not only enjoyable but more importantly, energizing.”
Granted, there's a difference between "taking a humor break" and "I spent all morning watching this cat use a dryer like a hamster wheel," so everything in moderation.
Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.