Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Cute, Cuteness, Nurturance, Nurture, Adorable, Emotion, Attractiveness, Attractive, Age, Babyface, Kindchenschema, Advertisement, Mass Communication, Mass Media, Attitude Toward Advertisement, Purchase Intention, Consumer Behavior

Major Advisor

Ross Buck, PhD

Associate Advisor

Carolyn Lin, PhD

Associate Advisor

John Christensen, PhD

Field of Study

Communication Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the implications of cuteness in marketing communication. It uses babyfacedness research as the basis for evoking a cuteness response, and introduces a nurturance scale to measure the emotional outcome of exposure. In the process, it uncovered problems with existing conceptualizations of attractiveness, and demonstrated how using nurturance, aesthetic judgement and sexual judgement measures better explains aggregate emotional outcome (e.g. positive/negative emotion) from exposure to facial images. In particular, it shows how nurturance and sexual judgements have antagonistic effects on aggregate emotion. Additionally, it details how babyfaced manipulations influence both the perceived age and gender of a portrait, and the effects such perceptions may have in communication contexts. The structural equation models uncover multiple moderators with age of stimuli image, cute manipulations (babyfaced), and participant sex all serving to significantly change some of the modeled relationships. Perhaps most interestingly, it finishes by showing how cuteness and nurturance may increase desire to touch products, and thus positively effect attitudes toward advertisements. This dissertation accomplishes this with two online, survey-based experiments that were analyzed using structural equation modeling. The first, a pilot study, having a two (low/high babyfacedness) x two (infant/adult stimuli) format. The second study expanded on the pilot study, similarly employed a two (low/high babyfacedness) x two (toddler/adult stimuli) x two (low/high haptic advertisement) experiment. Both experiments used female stimuli images as they were expected to evoke a greater cuteness response.