Are pets associated with happiness in their owners? Some research has demonstrated positive connections between pets and the physical health of their owners, and more recently, research has shown the beneficial effects of pets on the negative aspects of mental health as well. However, much less research has focused on the relation between pets and the positive aspects of mental health, such as happiness. In the current study, 263 American adults completed an online survey using Amazon Mechanical Turk. Results indicate that pet owners were more satisfied with their lives than non-owners, but did not differ on other wellbeing measures, personality measures, emotion regulation, or need satisfaction. Dog owners scored higher on all aspects of wellbeing compared with cat owners, and differed on a number of other measures, including the Big Five personality traits, emotion regulation strategies, and need satisfaction. The relationship between type of pet owned and wellbeing was mediated by the Big Five personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, specifically), emotion regulation strategy, and need satisfaction. In addition, self-identified “dog people,” relative to “cat people,” showed similar patterns to those of dog owners, but the effects were often smaller and non-significant. Although there may not be many differences between those who own pets and those who do not, clearly owning a dog is associated with beneficial outcomes. Implications and future directions are discussed.
|Department of Psychology, Manhattanville College, 2900 Purchase St., Purchase, NY 10577, USA.firstname.lastname@example.org
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