An Examination of the Relations between Social Support, Anthropomorphism and Stress among Dog Owners
Authors: Duvall Antonacopoulos, Nikolina M.; Pychyl, Timothy A.
Source: Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 1 June 2008, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 139-152(14)
Abstract:Although it is well documented that pet ownership has a number of benefits, the psychological characteristics of the pet–owner relationship that may affect human subjective well-being are not well understood. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relations between owners' perceived social support from their dog, anthropomorphism, and stress. Although studies have found that owning a pet is linked to stress reduction, this research has not examined whether engaging in anthropomorphism of dogs influences pet owners' stress levels. We hypothesized that, if dog owners are receiving social support through anthropomorphism of their pets, it is likely to lead to a reduction in stress. One hundred and seven dog owners completed a questionnaire package which included an Anthropomorphism Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Correlations revealed that pet owners who perceived themselves as having low levels of social support were more likely to engage in high levels of anthropomorphic behavior (r = −0.21, df = 91, p < 0.05, one-tailed). However, our results also revealed an unexpected, small positive relation between anthropomorphic behavior and stress (r = 0.17, df = 92, p < 0.05, one-tailed). Explanations for the potential role of anthropomorphism as a coping mechanism to enhance social support are provided.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2008