Children are more satisfied with relationships with their pets than their siblings, new research finds.
Children also seem to get on better with their pets than their siblings.
The research helps to underline the importance of pets for children
Mr Matt Cassells, the study’s first author, said:
”Anyone who has loved a childhood pet knows that we turn to them for companionship and disclosure, just like relationships between people.
We wanted to know how strong these relationships are with pets relative to other close family ties.
Ultimately this may enable us to understand how animals contribute to healthy child development”
The researchers surveyed 12-year-olds from 77 families.
Mr Cassells continued:
‘‘Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings.
The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgmental.
While previous research has often found that boys report stronger relationships with their pets than girls do, we actually found the opposite.
While boys and girls were equally satisfied with their pets, girls reported more disclosure, companionship, and conflict with their pet than did boys, perhaps indicating that girls may interact with their pets in more nuanced ways.’’
Dr Nancy Gee, a study co-author, said:
“Evidence continues to grow showing that pets have positive benefits on human health and community cohesion.
The social support that adolescents receive from pets may well support psychological well-being later in life but there is still more to learn about the long term impact of pets on children’s development.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (Cassells et al., 2017).