Reasons for Companion Animal Guardianship (Pet Ownership) from Two Populations

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 1Professor, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Newark, Founders Hall, 1179 University Drive, Newark, OH 43055, USA;, Email: Staats.1@osu.edu
  • 2 2Students, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Newark, Founders Hall, 1179 University Drive, Newark, OH 43055, USA
  • 3 3Students, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Newark, Founders Hall, 1179 University Drive, Newark, OH 43055, USA

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to extend and replicate previously published results from a random probability sample of university faculty. The sample assessed reasons given for companion-animal guardianship (owning pets) and for belief in the beneficial health effects of owning pets. In this replication and extension design, these two non-random samples responded to the same questionnaire items as those addressed to university faculty. Results indicated that avoidance of loneliness was the most frequent reason for owning pets among both students and middle-aged community members. This result is consistent with the view that animals provide social support and companionship to humans at various stages of the life cycle. Suggesting an emergent feature of the human-nonhuman animal bond, both groups selected, “the pet helps keep me active” as the second-most common reason. Older women reported a greater belief in the health-giving benefits of pet ownership than did younger persons or men. This belief may contribute to human benefits of pet ownership and requires further research.

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