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Effects of Therapy Dogs on Participants' Anxiety in Group Discussion

By Kailee Grace Renne

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This study investigates the effects of animal assisted therapy, AAT, on undergraduate students with social anxiety disorder, SAD. This was an experimental research design based on a pretest, posttest model. Eight participants (3 male and 5 female) volunteered to take part in this study. All participants were undergraduate students who had high scores on the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS). The PANAS, or Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, was used to assess the participants’ positive and negative affect before and after the experiment was conducted. After the positive and negative affect schedule participant’s blood pressure was taken. Then they sat in the chairs in the middle of the room that was in a circle. Before the participants participated in a group discussion the dog was brought in. The discussion lasted for 20 minutes. Once the discussion was over blood pressure was taken and participants were asked to take the positive and negative affect schedule again. The results from this study will indicate if the presence of a dog helps ease undergraduate college students with social anxiety. Results from this study showed that there was a significant decrease of negative affect in all participants by the end of this study. The limitation of this study was the lack of a control group due to small number of participants. Lacking a control group made it hard to attribute the effect to the dog, but participants’ responses to follow-up questions affirmed that the presence of the dog helped. It is hoped that this study will inform those with social anxiety an alternative way to ease their emotion with something other than medications. It is important for research to be conducted on this subject because there are not many published studies regarding social anxiety and AAT.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 11 April 2018
Format PDF
URL https://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/research_scholarship_symposium/2018/poster_presentations/13/
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Anxiety
  3. open access
  1. open access