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Anxiety-reducing effect: dog, fish and plant in direct comparison

By D. Buttelmann, A. K. Rompke

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Animals have an anxiety-reducing effect on humans. However, in the search for which interventions are the most effective, one notices that studies in this field are not comparable as they all use different designs. Hereby, we investigated the anxiety reducing abilities of different animals and a plant using a public speaking task with identical set-ups and measures in all conditions. After speech anxiety was induced in university students ( n=71), they were presented with either a dog, a fish, a plant, or were left alone (control condition) for an intervention phase of 5 minutes. Anxiety measures were taken at five different points throughout the testing procedure. When comparing the participants' levels of anxiety before and after the intervention, we found that all students showed reduced anxiety levels in the experimental conditions, with no differences among the types of intervention, while no such effect was found for participants in the control condition. Our results not only demonstrate a new perspective in research on animal-assisted activities by presenting a more systematic and analytic approach to research in this field, but more importantly, they confirm the necessity for research guidelines for animal-assisted activities across the different disciplines involved, and question the unique importance and necessity of the involvement of animals in interventional practice.

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 27
Issue 2
Pages 267-277
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.2752/175303714x13903827487647
Language English
Author Address University of Erfurt, Nordhaeuser Strasse 63, D-99089 Erfurt,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Guidelines
  5. Human behavior
  6. Humans
  7. Hygiene
  8. Interventions
  9. Mammals
  10. Men
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. Primates
  13. Relationships
  14. Research
  15. Social psychology and social anthropology
  16. students
  17. tests
  18. Universities and Colleges
  19. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed