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Sociality motivation and anthropomorphic thinking about pets

By E. S. Paul, A. Moore, P. McAinsh, E. Symonds, S. McCune, J. W. S. Bradshaw

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Sociality motivation, the need to feel socially connected with others, has been proposed as an important determinant of individual variation in anthropomorphic thinking. Specifically, it has been suggested that people who are socially isolated or disconnected will tend to infer more human-like mental states in animals and other nonhuman agents (computers, robots, metaphysical beings, etc.), than those who have higher levels of contact with other people. We investigated this hypothesis in a community-based sample of cat and dog owners, measuring degree of anthropomorphism by asking them which emotions they believed their pet was capable of experiencing, how likely they were to rely on it for social support, and how attached they were to it. Structural measures of social disconnection, including the number of other adults living in the household and the number of social contacts outside the home, were not generally associated with the tendency to think anthropomorphically about pets. However, owners living in households with no children (under the age of 16 years) reported higher levels of attachment to their pet than did those with children (B=1.678, p

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 27
Issue 4
Pages 499-512
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing
Language English
Author Address Centre for Behavioural Biology, School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, Bristol, BS40 5DU,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals
  2. Anthrozoology
  3. Automation
  4. Carnivores
  5. Cats
  6. Children
  7. Computers
  8. Households
  9. Humans
  10. Mammals
  11. Men
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. Pets and companion animals
  14. Primates
  15. Public Services
  16. robots
  17. sociability
  18. Social psychology and social anthropology
  19. variation
  20. vertebrates
  21. welfare
  1. peer-reviewed