Gender and Age Differences in Children’s Perceptions of Self-Companion Animal Interactions Expressed through Drawings

in Society & Animals
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This study explored gender and age differences in children’s perceptions of their interactions with companion animals, as represented through drawings and written descriptions. The study included 77 school-aged children (50 girls, 27 boys; aged 6 to 12 years) who attended a one-week humane education summer camp that aimed to promote positive interactions with animals. Children completed drawings of their interactions with companion animals and provided accompanying written descriptions. The results suggested that boys’ drawings and written descriptions showed more cognitively-based perceptions of self-companion animal interactions. In contrast, girls’ drawings and written descriptions showed more emotionally-focused perceptions. The drawings and written descriptions of younger (versus older) girls included the highest percentage of emotional language. In contrast, older (versus younger) boys used the highest percentage of emotional language to describe their self-companion animal drawings. Implications for gendered, developmentally sensitive, school-based programs aimed to encourage positive interactions between children and animals are discussed.

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