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The "pet effect": physiological calming in the presence of canines

By E. A. Wheeler, M. E. Faulkner

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The "pet effect," whereby interaction with a companion animal reduces the physiological indices of stress, varies with respect to fear of animals, companion animal guardianship, type of companion animal, or types of stress. In this study, a non-clinical sample of 223 undergraduates underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) in order to investigate how interaction with a companion animal affected stress levels for people with different levels of trait anxiety, a variable not yet investigated in this paradigm. An index of trait anxiety was taken along with repeated measures of state anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate. Overall results indicated that interaction with a companion dog reduced stress for all participants, with the effect being more pronounced for those high in trait anxiety.

Publication Title Society & Animals
Volume 23
Issue 5
Pages 425-438
ISBN/ISSN 1063-1119
Publisher Brill
DOI 10.1163/15685306-12341374
Language English
Author Address Department of Psychology, Towson University, 8000 York Rd, Towson, MD 21252,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Anxiety
  4. Blood Pressure
  5. Canidae
  6. Canine
  7. Carnivores
  8. Dogs
  9. Heart rate
  10. Humans
  11. Mammals
  12. Men
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Pets and companion animals
  15. Primates
  16. Relationships
  17. Stress
  18. Stress response
  19. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed