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Genetic and environmental influences on individual differences in frequency of play with pets among middle-aged men: a behavioral genetic analysis

By K. C. Jacobson, C. L. Hoffman, T. Vasilopoulos, W. S. Kremen, M. S. Panizzon, M. D. Grant, M. J. Lyons, H. Xian, C. E. Franz

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

There is growing evidence that pet ownership and human–animal interaction (HAI) have benefits for human physical and psychological well-being. However, there may be pre-existing characteristics related to patterns of pet ownership and interactions with pets that could potentially bias results of research on HAI. The present study uses a behavioral genetic design to estimate the degree to which genetic and environmental factors contribute to individual differences in frequency of play with pets among adult men. Participants were from the ongoing longitudinal Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA), a population-based sample of 1,237 monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins aged 51–60 years. Results demonstrate that MZ twins have higher correlations than DZ twins on frequency of pet play, suggesting that genetic factors play a role in individual differences in interactions with pets. Structural equation modeling revealed that, according to the best model, genetic factors accounted for as much as 37% of the variance in pet play, although the majority of variance (63–71%) was due to environmental factors that are unique to each twin. Shared environmental factors, which would include childhood exposure to pets, overall accounted for <10% of the variance in adult frequency of pet play, and were not statistically significant. These results suggest that the effects of childhood exposure to pets on pet ownership and interaction patterns in adulthood may be mediated primarily by genetically-influenced characteristics.

Date 2012
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 25
Issue 4
Pages 441-456
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.2752/175303712x13479798785814
URL http://europepmc.org/article/MED/25580056
Language English
Author Address Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, MC3077, CNPRU Room L-466D, The University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.kjacobso@bsd.uchicago.edu
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Age
  2. Aging
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Animals
  5. Anthrozoology
  6. APEC countries
  7. ASEAN Countries
  8. Asia
  9. Children
  10. Developing countries
  11. Effect
  12. Environment
  13. Genetic factors
  14. Genetics
  15. Human behavior
  16. Humans
  17. Hygiene
  18. Indochina
  19. Interactions
  20. Mammals
  21. Men
  22. models
  23. open access
  24. peer-reviewed
  25. Pets and companion animals
  26. Primates
  27. Relationships
  28. social anthropology
  29. Social psychology and social anthropology
  30. twins
  31. vertebrates
  32. Viet Nam
Badges
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed