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Biophilia in animal-assisted interventions - fad or fact?

By Y. Joye

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Biophilia is commonly defined as the inborn predisposition to affiliate with, or to attend to, natural or natural-like elements and processes. In this paper, I explore whether there is sufficient reason to conclude that the therapeutic or ameliorative effects of animal-assisted interventions (AAls) are a token of biophilia. Based on a conceptual analysis of the notion, I argue that - to this day - the exact meaning of "biophilia" remains inherently vague because several of its constituent claims have been left underspecified by theorists in the field. Although this vagueness allows one to consider most - if not all - AAI findings as instances of biophilic responses, this barely seems to be a theoretically useful insight. My overall conclusion is that it is imprudent to associate AAI research with a concept whose scientific merits and explanatory potential still remain unclear and underspecified.

Date 2011
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 24
Issue 1
Pages 5-15
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Language English
Author Address Research Centre for Marketing and Consumer Science, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Leuven, Naamsestraat 69, B-3000 Leuven,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Activity
  2. Analysis
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Anthrozoology
  5. Evolution
  6. Human behavior
  7. Interventions
  8. Mammals
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. Pets and companion animals
  11. predisposition
  12. Primates
  13. psychological well-being
  14. Social psychology and social anthropology
  1. peer-reviewed