Evolutionary psychology/adaptive mechanism question

I am wondering if there have been any studies done as to cuteness and adorableness in baby animals of all kinds from humans to puppies to chimps, etc. as a survival mechanism? I have always noticed that even the most hardened individuals will smile and laugh at the cute, adorable antics of little kids and puppy dogs, kittens, etc. I’ve raised several puppies and I have noticed there are are two immutable laws of the puppy dog universe: 1. You know going into it that they are going to piddle, poo and pee a number of times on the floor before you get them house broken. And 2. Inevitably, they will sniff out your best pair of slippers or shoes and chew the hell out of one of them rendering the remaining one usless.

These kind of rascally behavior really piss you off, but then they go and do something really cute and you forget their past transgressions and say, "Ahhhh, isn’t that cute?

Has anyone done any studies in evolutionary psychology or anthropology of “cuteness” in baby mammals as a necessary survival/adaptive mechanism?

If you think that reaction to cuteness is universal, you haven’t met enough soulless people. I for one think puppies are boring and babies are terrifying.

Also, could it be the other way around – that adults are attracted to cuteness because it reminds them of their young?

IIRC it’s all down to head/eye size. Someone posted a great link here not long ago including the evolution of Mickey Mouse over the years, as his proportions changed from “adult-like” to big head/big eyes/childlike - which, yes, we’re hard-wired to find attractive. And the young of all mammals tend to have similar proportions, so the hard-wiring works to make them, as well as our own young, attractive to us.

Yes, it’s been studied. Many baby mammals share the same characteristics - large eyes, large forehead, etc. We (generally speaking) seem to be programmed to respond to those characteristics with an urge to care for the baby. Interestingly, birds and reptiles don’t have those features as babies. Reptiles generally are on their own as soon as they hatch, and baby birds are ass-ugly, so presumably the parents are programmed differently. Mammals, what with the milk and all, all care for their young for some period of time, and seem to have developed this system for that reason.