The concept and components of “Kawaii” for older adults in Japan

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  • 高齢者にとっての“かわいい”の概念と構成要素
  • コウレイシャ ニ トッテ ノ “ カワイイ " ノ ガイネン ト コウセイ ヨウソ

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Abstract

<p>  The Japanese word “kawaii” (cute, adorable, or lovely in English) primarily has been discussed in the context of youth culture. This study explored older adults’ feelings of kawaii, investigating how this population reacts to kawaii products designed specifically for young people. In face-to-face interviews, 20 elderly community members were asked about their concepts of kawaii and their impressions of kawaii commercial characters popular with young people. Qualitative content analysis revealed that grandparents’ social role and relationships with grandchildren affected their emotional feelings of kawaii – not only towards their grandchildren but also towards other objects. Long-term life experience influenced what kinds of objects they felt kawaii. About half of the interviewees did not perceive the character toys as kawaii because they were unfamiliar with the objects. These results indicate that static visual features become less important for older adults than facial expressions and body motions as cues for kawaii feelings; nonetheless, older adults also evaluate kawaii feelings positively.</p>

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