A new study shows the positive impact that having a pet can have on the emotional functioning of people.
Prior research has shown that elderly people with pets fare better in many ways than those who do not have a pet. The current studies showed similar benefits. So, before you tell the kids, “no, you can’t have a cat,” just remember that it might help them emotionally…and you too.
Pets can serve as important sources of social and emotional support for “everyday people,” not just individuals facing significant health challenges, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
And, the study found, pet owners were just as close to key people in their lives as to their animals, indicating no evidence that relationships with pets came at the expense of relationships with other people, or that people relied more on pets when their human social support was poorer.
Psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University conducted three experiments to examine the potential benefits of pet ownership among what they called everyday people. The results of the current study were reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology®, published online by APA.
“We observed evidence that pet owners fared better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences, than non-owners on several dimensions,” said lead researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD, of Miami University in Ohio. “Specifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extraverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.”
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