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Does a Dog's Presence Make a Person Appear More Likable?: Two Studies

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Recent findings have led researchers to believe that our pets may do more for us than we think. A dog's presence may even make a person appear more likable. Two studies were conducted to test this hypothesis. In the first study, 34 subjects viewed photographs of people pictured alone, pictured with a dog, and pictured with flowers. The subjects were asked to rate the person in the photos with regard to four dimensions: approachability, happy looking, relaxed looking, and best photo. The central finding revealed that photos of individuals pictured with a dog were rated higher than photos of individuals pictured without a dog. In the second study 45 subjects were asked to view three types of slides. The three slides consisted of outdoor scenery, a person walking through the outdoor scene, and a person walking a dog through the outdoor scene. Subjects were asked to rate the slides against each other with regard to several aesthetic dimensions, which included easiest to gaze at and best photo. In addition, subjects were asked how they perceived the person photographed with respect to happiness, relaxed looking, and safety. Finally, subjects were asked to choose photos in which they would like to be included. The major results of Study II demonstrated that (1) photos rated highest for questions concerning subjects' feelings toward the slides (easy to gaze at, feeling relaxed, best photo) were the scenery slides shown alone. The second highest rating went to the slides of the person walking the dog. (2) The person shown in the scene was perceived as appearing happier and safer when with the dog. (3) Subjects preferred to be added to the scene shown alone, without the dog. And when given the choice to replace the person shown, subjects preferred to replace the person in the scene with the dog rather than the person shown alone. Overall, results of both Studies I and II indicate that people appear happier, safer, and make a better “picture” when seen with a dog. Also, the results show that people appear more relaxed when sitting or standing with a dog. Finally, when asked to place themselves in the scene, subjects would rather be in a scene with a dog than alone.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1992

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  • Anthrozoos is the journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology and is a vital forum for academic dialogue on human-animal relations. It is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that has enjoyed a distinguished history as a pioneer in the field since its launch in 1987. The key premise of Anthrozoos is to address the characteristics and consequences of interactions and relationships between people and non-human animals across areas as varied as anthropology, ethology, medicine, psychology, veterinary medicine and zoology. Articles therefore cover the full range of human animal relations, from their treatment in the arts and humanities, through to behavioral, biological, social and health sciences..

    Fast Track articles are uncorrected proofs of articles that have yet to be published in an issue.


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