We live in a society where people spend billions of dollars annually on their pets, and according to the American Pet Products Association, 62% of U.S. households own a pet.

Clearly many people view their pets as a part of the family and more than merely a wild animal.

In my life I have always appreciated and loved our family dog and everyone in my immediate family holds their dog near and dear to their heart.

In my personal experience, dogs, and pets in general, bring joy, amusement and affection on a daily basis.

Having a pet in our lives can create wonderful memories and an attachment that is long lasting.

I am obviously biased toward dogs, and toward an affirmative yes with the title of this post. What about you? Is your experience with having pets full of positive emotion and affection?

It is possible that pets can actually improve peoples’ happiness, well-being and even physical health?

And if this is the case, how so, and what does it depend on?

As I recently lost a pet, these questions were particularly interesting to me, and fortunately I found an article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2011) that shed some insight on the impact of pets on our well-being.

According to the article, which presented a 3-part study exploring the positive consequences of pet ownership, “pets serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners.”

The first study found that pet owners scored better on certain measures of well-being and individual differences. For instance, pet owners reported greater self-esteem, exercised more, were higher in conscientiousness and had less fearful attachment.

The second study offered further insight into the relational perspective of pet owners. Results revealed that pets can serve the social needs of their owners, and interestingly, pets served as a compliment to other relationships and functioned as social support alongside other general relationships.

Simply put, pets didn’t detract from everyday relationships – they added to them.

The third study revealed how pets can help stave off negativity related to rejection and loneliness. Participants were induced to experience feelings of isolation and loneliness, and those who simply thought about their pets reduced their feelings of rejection just as effectively as thinking of a close friend.

Overall, there is promising information for you pet lovers out there that pets really offer valuable companionship. This makes sense as pets offer us a non-judgmental support and unconditional love.

There are many animals out there that need a good home, so if you know someone who could use a furry friend, there is clearly reciprocal benefits for someone willing to care for a pet.

Reference

McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friends With Benefits: On Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101 (6), 1239-1252.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 2 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

Trackbacks

From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (March 29, 2012)

Mental Health Social (March 30, 2012)

From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (March 30, 2012)

Marilyn Pr-Mitchell (March 30, 2012)

Marilyn Pr-Mitchell (March 30, 2012)

Joseph Alcala (March 30, 2012)

Do Pets Make Us Happier? — DogGeek.com (March 30, 2012)

Gina-Renee Clark (March 30, 2012)

Marilyn Pr-Mitchell (March 30, 2012)

Ashley Boynes~Shuck (March 30, 2012)

Supple (March 30, 2012)

Melanie Greenberg (April 6, 2012)

Melanie Greenberg (April 6, 2012)






    Last reviewed: 29 Mar 2012

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2012). Do Pets Make Us Happier?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2012/03/do-pets-make-us-happier/

 

 

Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • anonymous: my boyfriend sometimes does not communicate with me, when i call him he does not receive my call, i text...
  • Hermes Evelyne Bag: Every one of Ed Miliband’s pledges from his speech yesterday has popular public support,...
  • juliebode: However, Love said he’ll almost certainly look backside on his initially NBA dwelling being a...
  • christian louboutin nail polish: two, this environmental education: compared to the environmental education and...
  • Angela Taylor: Can you provide specific references of which culture you are referring to as well as specific positive...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!