Abstract Title

Title: Are pets our superheroes? Pets may help individuals adjust to traumatic events

Abstract

Most people experience some traumatic event in their lifetime, such as unwanted sexual attention or personal injury. This study assesses relations between trauma exposure, pet owners’ attachment to their pets, and quality of life, including both physical and mental health. Participants were 156 undergraduates (77% female; 92% white; mean age: 22.47) who completed online surveys. Preliminary analyses indicated that number of previous traumas and are were correlated (r = .33, p = .000), such that older participants reported a greater number of previous traumas; therefore, all analyses control for age. Partial correlations indicated that more previous traumas were related to worse physical health (r = -.23, p = .005) and worse mental health (r = -.44, p = .000). More previous traumas, worse physical health, and worse mental health were all related to stronger pet attachment (r’s range from + or - .16 to .19, all p’s ≤ .05). These findings support the notion that pets may provide emotional support for individuals adjusting to challenging life events, particularly for those with worse physical and mental health.

Modified Abstract

Most people experience some traumatic event in their lifetime, such as unwanted sexual attention or personal injury. This study assesses relations between trauma exposure, pet owners’ attachment to their pets, and quality of life. Participants were 156 undergraduates (77% female; 92% white; mean age: 22.47) who completed online surveys. Preliminary analyses indicated that older participants reported a greater number of previous traumas; therefore, all analyses control for age. Partial correlations indicated that more previous traumas were related to worse physical and mental health. More previous traumas, worse physical health, and worse mental health were related to stronger pet attachment. These findings support the notion that pets may provide emotional support for individuals adjusting to challenging life events, particularly those with worse physical and mental health.

Research Category

Psychology

Author Information

Claudia BennightFollow

Primary Author's Major

Psychology

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. Patricia

Tomich

Start Date

April 2019

Research Area

Psychology

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Apr 9th, 1:00 PM

Title: Are pets our superheroes? Pets may help individuals adjust to traumatic events

Most people experience some traumatic event in their lifetime, such as unwanted sexual attention or personal injury. This study assesses relations between trauma exposure, pet owners’ attachment to their pets, and quality of life, including both physical and mental health. Participants were 156 undergraduates (77% female; 92% white; mean age: 22.47) who completed online surveys. Preliminary analyses indicated that number of previous traumas and are were correlated (r = .33, p = .000), such that older participants reported a greater number of previous traumas; therefore, all analyses control for age. Partial correlations indicated that more previous traumas were related to worse physical health (r = -.23, p = .005) and worse mental health (r = -.44, p = .000). More previous traumas, worse physical health, and worse mental health were all related to stronger pet attachment (r’s range from + or - .16 to .19, all p’s ≤ .05). These findings support the notion that pets may provide emotional support for individuals adjusting to challenging life events, particularly for those with worse physical and mental health.