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Benefits derived from companion animals, and the use of the term "attachment"

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Researchers have discovered that companion animals can physically and psychologically benefit their owners, and some argue that one's attachment to a companion animal influences those benefits. However, those studying the human–companion animal bond have used measures of attachment that may not be congruent with the school of attachment theory as it is applied to human–human relationships. We propose that the term "attachment" applied to human–companion animal relationships in research to date may share aspects of traditional attachment theory, but does not necessarily parallel attachment theory accurately. This paper provides a discussion of the similarities and differences between traditional attachment theory and measurements of human–companion animal attachment, and a review of the literature on physical and psychological benefits derived from companion animals. We conclude with a brief discussion of new research and future directions.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279306785593757

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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