Time to Buy That Pet

The Journal of Personality and Social PsychologyŒ¬ published a study recently that showed that pets can serve as important sources of social and emotional support for äóìeveryday people,äó not just individuals facing significant health challenges.
In a press release they reported that:
  • pet owners were just as close to key people in their lives as to their animals, indicating no evidence that relationships with pets came at the expense of relationships with other people, or that people relied more on pets when their human social support was poorer.
äóìWe observed evidence that pet owners fared better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences, than non-owners on several dimensions,äó said lead researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD, of Miami University in Ohio. äóìSpecifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extraverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.äó
Three studies were conducted around this.

  • In one, 217 people answered surveys aimed at determining whether pet owners in the group differed from people who didnäó»t have pets in the areas of well-being, personality type and attachment style. In all cases, pet owners were happier, healthier and better adjusted than were non-owners.
  • A second experiment, involving 56 dog owners examined whether pet owners benefit more when their pet is perceived to fulfill their social needs better. This study found greater well-being among owners whose dogs increased their feelings of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence.
  • The last study found that pets can make people feel better after experiencing rejection. Subjects were asked to write about a time when they felt excluded. Then they were asked to write about their favorite pet, or to write about their favorite friend, or to draw a map of their campus. The researchers found that writing about pets was just as effective as writing about a friend when it came to staving off feelings of rejection.

And so what are you going to do? How much is that doggie in the window, the one with the (sing along kids!)