Man’s Best Friend and Sometimes Target: Negative Interpersonal Relations Are Related to Animal Abuse Proclivity

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 School of Psychology, Keynes College, University of Kent, England
  • 2 School of Psychology, Keynes College, University of Kent, England
  • 3 School of Psychology, Keynes College, University of Kent, England

Abstract

Emerging research regarding the psychological correlates of nonhuman animal abuse is warranted by the high prevalence of abuse. The few studies to examine factors related to animal abuse have found that those who commit such offenses commonly experience dysfunctional childhoods and high anxiety levels. Yet, no study has examined how attachment styles (by-products of maladaptive childhoods), social-anxiety, and animal abuse proclivity are inter-related. Therefore, this study assessed the association between attachment styles and social anxiety as indicators of animal abuse proclivity within an adult sample. It was found that an anxious attachment significantly correlated with direct proclivity (i.e., animal as the perceived provocateur) while the relationship between social anxiety and indirect animal abuse proclivity (i.e., animal as the outlet for aggression) was mediated by avoidant attachment. These findings emphasize the importance of exploring how interpersonal relationships influence our relationship with animals, to advance treatment and assessment of animal abusers.

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