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Exploring the Effects of Pet Preference, Presence, and Personality on Depression Symptoms

By Jasmine L. Puskey, Anthony E. Coy

Category Journal Articles

Pets live in nearly two-thirds of US households and are thought to increase wellbeing. However, previous research is mixed regarding the extent to which pets actually provide benefits. One understudied factor that may help clarify these findings is pet preference, or the extent to which a person prefers dogs and cats, and how that preference aligns with the presence of the pet in the home. As such, across two studies (ns = 142; 264) the current research sought to evaluate if pet preference–pet presence alignment was related to self-reported depression symptoms, and explore a potential underlying factor associated with these relationships: personality. Although the importance of pet preference–pet presence alignment on depression appeared relatively pronounced in study 1, it was weaker in study 2 and thus the findings are only suggestive but act as a call for future research on pet preference–pet presence alignment. However, both studies replicated previous findings suggesting that extraversion was related to a preference for dogs over cats and raised concerns about the expected relationship between extraversion and depression. Overall, the findings highlight the need for further research on pet preference–pet presence alignment to better understand the effects pets have on mental health and wellbeing.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 33
Issue 5
Pages 643-657
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2020.1799550
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Cats
  2. Depression
  3. Dogs
  4. Human-animal interactions
  5. Personality
  6. Pets and companion animals