Companion Animals in Childhood and Emerging Adulthood: The Relation to Emerging Adult Development

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 Department of Psychology, Winona State UniversityMN
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The purpose of the current study was to gain additional understanding of the developmental significance of companion animals for human development. Participants were 202 undergraduate students at a public university. Companion animal ownership, bonding (i.e., high and low reported bonding), and affection (i.e., high and low reported affection) in childhood and emerging adulthood were explored in relation to psychosocial functioning during emerging adulthood (i.e., empathy, autonomy, self-esteem, helping disposition, loneliness, and social anxiety). The majority of participants reported having companion animals during childhood, and to a slightly lesser degree, during emerging adulthood, with a dog overwhelmingly being the most important companion animal. Companion animal ownership and type of companion animal were not associated with psychosocial functioning. However, companion animal bond during childhood and companion animal affection during emerging adulthood were associated with emerging adult psychosocial functioning.

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