Pets Are Good for Mental Health of 'Everyday People'
Social support is critical for psychological and physical well-being, reflecting the centrality of belongingness in our lives.
Human interactions often provide people with considerable social support. But pets can serve as important sources of social and emotional support for "everyday people," not just individuals facing significant health challenges,
According to research by psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University, 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.
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.
The researchers conducted three experiments to examine the potential benefits of pet ownership among what they called everyday people.
Study 1 found in a community sample of 217 people (79 percent women, mean age 31, mean annual family income $77,000) that pet owners fared better on several well-being (e.g., greater self-esteem, more exercise) and individual-difference (e.g., greater conscientiousness, less fearful attachment) measures than were non-owners.
Study 2 assessed 56 dog owners (91 percent of whom were women, with a mean age of 42 and average annual family income of $65,000) and found greater well-being among owners whose dogs increased their feelings of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence.
Finally, Study 3 brought 97 undergraduates with an average age of 19 into the laboratory and experimentally demonstrated the ability of pets to stave off negativity caused by social rejection. In summary, pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners.
Allen R. McConnell, Christina M. Brown, Tonya M. Shoda, Laura E. Stayton, Colleen E. Martin. Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published online Jul 4, 2011. DOI: 10.1037/a0024506
Have you got your dog a licence? Only RM10.00 at MPK but if you are applying for the first time, it is a hassle! You need to bring along photos of your residence and your pet....what the hell for, except to add to the mountains of misplaced documents. The MPK should just issue the licence on request and focus their energy on enforcement.