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Singly living people and their cats: a study of human mood and subsequent behavior

By D. C. Turner, G. Rieger

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We sought to examine how cat owners' moods correlated with subsequent interactions with their cats. Such a relationship has not been previously documented. Data from 47 women and 49 men living alone with their cats were collected. Participants were visited at their homes for one two-hour session each. Approximately five minutes before and after the observation period, the owners filled out a standard questionnaire (EWL, list of adjectives) to indicate their current mood. The EWL allowed the authors to later assign owner moods to one or more of 14 sub-scales. In this study, results on correlates of moods at the beginning and during the subsequent first half hour of interactions are presented. Multiple regression analyses showed that related mood sub-scales, e.g. anxiety and depressiveness, can influence human behavior in different directions, and that bipolar mood sub-scales, e.g. introvertedness and extrovertedness, do not necessarily work in opposite directions. Four human behaviors were related to mood: intents to interact, starts of interactions, and approaches and vocalizations while interacting. While the start of an interaction was influenced by eight different mood sub-scales, the others mentioned were only related to four sub-scales at most. The only recorded behavior of the cat that was significantly correlated with the owner's mood was approaches to the owner within an ongoing interaction.

Date 2001
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 14
Issue 1
Pages 38-46
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Language English
Author Address Zoology Institute, University of Zurich-Irchel, Zurich,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Activity
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Anxiety
  5. Cats
  6. Depression
  7. Developed countries
  8. Diseases
  9. Europe
  10. Females
  11. Human-animal bond
  12. Human-animal relationships
  13. Human behavior
  14. Mammals
  15. Men
  16. Mental disorders
  17. Mental illness
  18. moods
  19. OECD countries
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. Pets and companion animals
  22. Primates
  23. psychiatric disorders
  24. psychological well-being
  25. surveys
  26. Switzerland
  1. peer-reviewed