The widely held belief that companion animal ownership can help to reduce loneliness was tested using a quasi-experimental longitudinal design. Over a six-month period, 59 participants completed the UCLA-Loneliness Scale when they were seeking to acquire a companion animal. Participants' loneliness was measured again six-months after their initial recruitment, by which time 35 of the 59 participants had acquired a new companion animal. There was no evidence that companion animal acquisition helped to reduce levels of loneliness, irrespective of whether participants already owned a companion animal at the time of seeking to acquire a new companion animal, or the type of companion animal that was acquired. There was no evidence that participants who ultimately acquired a new companion animal differed from participants who did not, suggesting that the findings were not a consequence of a self-selection bias. The perseverance and apparent strength of the belief that companion animal ownership can alleviate loneliness is discussed in relation to the current findings.
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