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Oxytocin responses after dog and cat interactions depend on pet ownership and may affect interpersonal trust

By Benjamin A. Curry, Brianne Donaldson, Moana Vercoe, Matthew Filippo, Paul J. Zak

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Although many of us interact daily with animals, we have lit t le understanding of how this affects our interactions with people. This study assessed the physiological effects of human-animal interactions and tested if this affected interpersonal trust. Participants (N=141) were assigned to play wit h a friendly but unfamiliar cat or dog for 10 minutes or to rest quietly in a private room. Blood was obtained from human participants before and after animal interactions or rest, and videos of animal interactions were coded for encounter styles. Participants then made interpersonal monetary decisions to quantify trust and trustworthiness towards trangers. Although oxytocin (OT) fell on average after interactions with both dogs and cats, there was a positive and significant correlation between the change in OT after interacting with a dog and lifetime pet exposure. Participants who had lived with four or more dogs in their lifetimes had a positive increase in OT after interacting with an unknown dog. We found a negative correlation between the change in OT after interacting with a cat and cat ownership. Participants who had a reduction in stress hormones after a dog interaction showed increased trust in strangers. Specifically, a one-percentage-point decrease in the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin hormone increased trust in a s tranger by 24 percent. Our findings show that the human OT response to animals depends on previous pet exposure.

Date 2015
Publication Title Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin
Volume 3
Issue 2
Pages 56-71
URL https://www.apa-hai.org/human-animal-interaction/haib/download-info/trust/
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Adolescents
  2. Animals
  3. APEC countries
  4. Attachment
  5. Attitudes
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Blood
  8. Canidae
  9. Canine
  10. Carnivores
  11. Cats
  12. Children
  13. Countries
  14. Developed countries
  15. Dogs
  16. Economics
  17. Emotions
  18. Hormones
  19. Humans
  20. Mammals
  21. Men
  22. North America
  23. OECD countries
  24. open access
  25. Oxytocin
  26. peer-reviewed
  27. pet care
  28. Primates
  29. Relationships
  30. Stress
  31. Stress response
  32. Trust
  33. United States of America
  34. vertebrates
Badges
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed