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The “Pet Effect”

Physiological Calming in the Presence of Canines

In: Society & Animals
Authors:
Evangeline A. Wheeler Department of Psychology, Towson University ewheeler@towson.edu

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Margaret E. Faulkner Department of Psychology, Towson University

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The “pet effect,” whereby interaction with a companion animal reduces the physiological indices of stress, varies with respect to fear of animals, companion animal guardianship, type of companion animal, or types of stress. In this study, a non-clinical sample of 223 undergraduates underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (tsst) in order to investigate how interaction with a companion animal affected stress levels for people with different levels of trait anxiety, a variable not yet investigated in this paradigm. An index of trait anxiety was taken along with repeated measures of state anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate. Overall results indicated that interaction with a companion dog reduced stress for all participants, with the effect being more pronounced for those high in trait anxiety.

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