A Longitudinal Study of the Relation between Acquiring a Dog and Loneliness

In: Society & Animals
Nikolina M. Duvall Antonacopoulos Department of Psychology, Carleton University Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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This longitudinal study examined the effect of acquiring a dog using both an indirect and a direct measure of loneliness. The loneliness levels of 31 adults who acquired a dog and a control group of 35 non-dog guardians (non-dog owners) were assessed at baseline and 8 months. Results revealed that changes in loneliness over time differed for the two groups when loneliness was assessed through a 1-item direct measure. Participants who acquired a dog experienced reduced loneliness levels from baseline to 8 months and were less lonely at 8 months than non-dog guardians, even though the two groups did not differ at baseline. On the other hand, when loneliness was assessed through a multi-item indirect measure, acquiring a dog had no effect on loneliness. These results highlight the importance of the type of measure used to assess loneliness when examining changes in loneliness following the acquisition of a companion animal.

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