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One of the family? Measuring young adolescents' relationships with pets and siblings

By Matthew T Cassels, Naomi White, Nancy Gee, Claire Hughes

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Pets are common but their importance to children and early adolescents has received scant empirical attention. This is partly due to a lack of tools for measuring child-pet relationships. The first aim of the present study (involving 77 12-year-olds) was to evaluate a pet adaptation of an established measure of human relationship quality, the Network of Relationships Inventory (NRI). Next, we applied the NRI to examine how pet relationship quality varies with pet type and participant's gender, and to compare participants' relationships with pets and with siblings. Results showed that girls reported more disclosure, companionship, and conflict with their pet than did boys, while dog owners reported greater satisfaction and companionship with their pet than did owners of other pets. Highlighting the importance of early adolescents' pet relationships, participants derived more satisfaction and engaged in less conflict with their pets than with their siblings.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Publication Title Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Volume 49
Pages 12-20
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.appdev.2017.01.003
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Adolescents
  2. Animal roles
  3. Human-animal interactions
  4. Pets and companion animals
  5. Pets as family members
  6. siblings
  7. validity