Friday, April 8, 2011

A York University Student's Study On Pets And Our Emotions

A while back, several of you were very helpful in completing a survey for our reader Laura, a York University student who was writing her thesis on the emotions of pet owners vs non pet owners. Yesterday Laura emailed me her thesis, and below I have included some of her work (I read the whole thing and found it very interesting). If you would like to obtain the whole copy for informative purposes, or if you simply want to time travel & remember what it was like back in the schooling days, you can email Laura at and she'll be happy to forward a copy to you. It turns out if I wanted to be less stressed in my every day life, I should have gotten a turtle, not my crazy Cockapoo!

"...Nevertheless, this study is important for researchers who may be interested in the relationship between different types of pets and trait anxiety. These results seem to suggest that some pet owners do not have lower levels of trait anxiety, however turtle owners seem to exhibit lower levels than non-pet owners. Thus pets such as dogs and cats do not seem to be related to a person's trait anxiety, however as other research has shown, they may help reduce state anxiety (Barker et al., 2010). Consequently, dogs may still be useful if a therapist wants to reduce the client's anxiety at the moment, which research has shown may be helpful in the outcome of therapy (Beck & Katcher, 1996; Cusack, 1988). More research would need to be conducted on turtle owners and trait anxiety, since this study found that people who own turtles tend to have lower anxiety levels."

"...This study demonstrates the need for further research into trait anxiety based on type of pet owned, since there are only a few studies that have been conducted on this relationship, and the results seem to indicate that turtle owners in particular are more likely to have lower trait anxiety levels. Future research should also consider including questions pertaining to the pet's health, or other possible influences when examining trait anxiety, since this study found that those more attached to their pet were also more likely to have high trait anxiety levels. Since this was one of two studies that has looked at a variety of pets, and it was limited in terms of pet types, it would perhaps be beneficial to look at a wider variety of pets owned. Future studies should also obtain larger samples of different pet owners, and compare each type of pet owner to determine possible differences, instead of grouping different types of pet owners together."