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A longitudinal test of the belief that companion animal ownership can help reduce loneliness

By A. Gilbey, J. McNicholas, G. M. Collis

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Abstract

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.

Date 2007
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 345-353
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279307X245473
Language English
Author Address School of Aviation, College of Business, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.a.p.gilbey@massey.ac.nz
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Tags
  1. Activity
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Belief
  5. British Isles
  6. Cats
  7. Commonwealth of Nations
  8. Developed countries
  9. Dogs
  10. Emotions
  11. Europe
  12. Great Britain
  13. Human-animal relationships
  14. Mammals
  15. OECD countries
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. Pets and companion animals
  18. psychological well-being
  19. Relationships
  20. Social psychology and social anthropology
  21. United Kingdom
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed