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COMPANION-ANIMAL BONDING AND EMPATHY DEVELOPMENT: AN INVESTIGATION OF THE LASTING INFLUENCE OF PAST DOGS ON EMPATHY IN A COLLEGE POPULATION
Jacqueline N. Fullerton (Psychology) Submitted as a St. Mary‟s Project In Partial Fulfillment of the Graduation Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Psychology May, 2012 St. Mary‟s College of Maryland St. Mary‟s City, Maryland
___________________________________________ Laraine Glidden, Psychology Project Mentor
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Abstract
This study explored the relationship between companion animal bonding and empathy to further research in the field of human-animal interactions. The companion animal bond was defined and explored in terms of: (1) saliency of effects into young adulthood, (2) pet type, (3) concurrent pet ownership, and (4) ability to activate empathy through thoughts of the bond. College-aged students (N = 83) owning a dog before the age of 16 retrospectively responded on the strength of their bond with The Dog they considered most important in their lives, as well as on the presence of other dogs in the household simultaneous with The Dog. Randomly assigned conditions (control, experimental manipulation) dictated one of two writing tasks. All participants then completed a behavioral and a self-report empathy measure. Results showed an inverse relationship between the strength of bonding and self-report empathy by gender. Stronger bonding was associated with lower empathy in females, but higher empathy in males. Owning other dogs was associated with weaker bonding in all participants and females, and higher empathy in females compared to males. Males with no other dogs reported higher empathy than those with other dogs. Future research should continue to explore the relationship between companion animal bonding and empathy by gender. Research should address: (1) the influence of specific types of pets owned, alone and with others; (2) the saliency of effects, into adulthood; and (3) quality of social interactions with other people.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Companion Animal Bonding and Empathy Development: The Lasting Influence of Past Dogs on Empathy in a College Population According to the American Pet Products Association‟s 2010-2011 National Pet Owners Survey, as many as 93% of U.S. households own at least one pet, a substantial increase from 56% in 1988 (APPMA, 2011). There are more pets than people living in the United States, with recent numbers estimated to be 382 million pets and 308 million people (APPMA, 2011; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Pet ownership is at an all-time high, and the upward trend in numbers does not appear to be stabilizing. The effects of relationships with pets are vast and the implications important for people
owning or exposed to pets across the nation. Regardless of whether pets are present in the home, people may be socialized to feel affinity towards pets as a result of frequent exposure in mass culture: clothing, stuffed animals, and in a multiplicity of media forms including books, magazines, movies, TV shows. The common anthropomorphizing of pets makes them relatable to human beings, as demonstrated by 94% of respondents (N = 1,221) from the United States and Canada who reported that their pets have “human-like personality traits” (AAHA, 2004). Pet owners display conviction that the relative costs of owning a pet (e.g. financial, time commitment, restrictions on lifestyle) do not outweigh the relative benefits. In the 1994 Pet Owner Survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 54% of pet owners surveyed (N = 1,207) reported that they are spending more on their pet(s) now than they did three years ago. In contrast, a mere 5% of respondents reported spending less on their pet now than they have in the past three years. Despite their increasing costs, pets are profuse in families throughout the nation, regardless of socio-economic status, revealing a motivation for pet ownership beyond mere utility (Paul & Serpell, 1991). So, what are the benefits that underlie
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY the large numbers of pets in American households, despite recent periods of national economic turmoil? What is it that people believe pets offer, if not work, transportation, or food, as was their historical purpose? Research and the common use of the term, companion-animals to refer
to pets, illustrate that companionship is likely an important answer to this question. The presence and perception of this quality within human-pet interactions is therefore of utmost importance when examining the motivation to keep pets and their ability to affect humans, and in particular, their owners, who provide them shelter and care. Pet ownership occurs most frequently amongst families, specifically in households with children (Ascione, 1992; Anderson, 2008; Beck & Katcher, 1996; Bonas, Mcnicholas, & Collis, 2001; Melson, Peet, & Sparks, 1991). People, and especially children, oftentimes express that they consider their pets to be very important companions, and even family members (Anderson, 2008; Bonas et al., 2001). The AAHA 2004 Pet Survey found that over 90% of people said they were either “very likely” (53%) or “somewhat likely” (37%) to risk their own lives for their companion animals. In 2006, nearly half of all pet owners in the United States (49.7%), considered their pets to be a member of their family (APPMA, 2011; AVMA, 2007). Pets‟ value to the lives of people, particularly in the context of the family, is undisputable. The accumulation of the frequent contributions of pets to people‟s lives, in unison with the positive regard so many feel towards them, is bound to have an impact on individuals and society. For younger people still living at home, who are in the midst of identity formation and personality development, these effects may be stronger, as evidence shows that the majority of households with pets also have children. Thus, many children are maturing, coming to understand themselves, and forming interpretations of their environments, in the presence of a pet (Bonas et al., 1991). Children living at home may even see their pets more than their human
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY friends, thus making their social interactions and emotional involvement with the pet especially impactful. It has been theorized that attachment precipitates the capacity for empathy and is therefore an important mediating factor in the ability of pets to influence empathic development (Gendler, 1997). In order to develop feelings of attachment, people must first reach a degree of comfort and security with the attachment object (Anderson, 2008). As pets provide such effective socio-emotional support, a secure attachment relationship is likely to form. Humans who feel attached to their pet are more likely to show caretaking behaviors (Bryant, 1990). In order to provide successful care that reflects their ideas about the pet and the bond, they must interpret, understand, and respond to nonverbal cues of another. In doing so, the caretaker must practice empathic responding when interacting within the companion animal bond. Attachment may be stronger between dogs and people, compared to other types of pets. The relationship between the strength of bonding with past pet dogs and current empathy has yet to be explored. This paper investigates how the strength of companion animal bonding with one‟s most
important pet dog affects the formation of empathic development, as well as the saliency of these effects over maturation into young adulthood. Rationale for New Research on the Beneficial Effects of Pets on People The study of human-pet interactions is a relatively recent field of research, despite pets‟ historical significance in the lives of humans (Endenburg & Baarda, 1995; Levinson, 1978). “I am treading on virgin soil” Levinson states of his 1978 publication, focused on expanding research on the effects of human-animal relationships (p. 1032). However, interest in the nascent field has been rapidly expanding (Beck & Katcher, 1996).
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Empirical research on pets‟ effects on people is scarce, thus leading to a limited amount of generalizable information that can be drawn from existing non-empirical studies (e.g. case studies, surveys, convenience samples) (Davis & Juhasz, 1985; Van Houtte & Jarvis, 1995). Many existing studies vary in populations, procedures, and test instruments, making comparisons, collaboration, and conclusions difficult to disentangle, in part because of the presence of confounding variables (Barker & Wolen, 2008). A review of the current literature yielded inconsistent evidence on the origins of pets‟ specific effects, their lasting impact with time, and the generalizability to different populations. Many studies seemed to focus on the outcome effects of pets, without considering how these effects came about.
Companion animals can provide an opportunity for open, non-evaluative communication, reinstalled feelings of control, increased competency, friendliness, and worth to people of various ages and health conditions. However, not all pet owners experience these phenomena, and pets can have positive effects on people who are not their owners (e.g. animal-assisted therapy). Therefore, there must be predictors present within human-pet relationships that lead to variations in psychological effects. As a result, future research that explores the antecedents of specific benefits offered by pets is necessary for the field of human-animal interactions to advance. The vast influences of pets on people of all ages, as well as the lack of a strong body of knowledge within the field, synchronously act as the impetus for conducting further research on pets‟ ability to enhance the lives of so many people. The reasons for studying human-animal interactions are not limited to a single domain, but extend to numerous facets of human functioning. The emotional, physical, social, and psychological effects of pets are important to review because of their impact on human health, their interconnectedness within the study of
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY human-animal interactions, the insight they provide on pets‟ effects on human health, and, ultimately, their associations with pets‟ ability to heighten empathy. Pets are frequent and longterm contributors to many people‟s emotional, physical, social and psychological aspects of life who are valued to the utmost degree. Pets Offer Improved Emotional, Social, and Psychological Health Outcomes Pets’ Emotional Effects A large number of studies to date on human-pet interactions are constructed around the
benefits of pets to populations of clinical interest (Barker & Wolen, 2008; Davis & Juhasz, 1985; Poresky & Hendrix, 1990). For these populations, the effects of pets are especially meaningful, as disabled, ill, and elderly people may feel somewhat isolated from others and be at a higher risk for a diversity of health problems (Beck & Katcher, 1996; Van Houtte & Jarvis, 1995). In times of adversity, the reliability of their pet‟s consistent displays of affection and behaviors devoid from ill feelings, judgment, or pity, provide feelings that “the essence of the person has not been damaged” (Beck & Katcher, 1996). The outcome can be newfound hope and strength to carry on. Pets reduce stress and anxiety. Pets offer peace in the midst of stress associated with work and obligations, as they do not conform to the same cultural standards or expectations manifest in society. The lack of pressure and expectations from pets may assist in explaining how the mere presence of pets has been found to ameliorate levels of psychological distress in children. Child patients with psychotic disorders who participated in an animal-assisted therapy sessions were found to have anxiety scores one-half those of patients who instead participated in therapeutic recreation sessions, as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Barker & Dawson, 1998). Hansen, Messenger, Baun, and Megel (1999) found that children exhibited
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY fewer distress behaviors with an unfamiliar dog in the room, compared with having no dog present (as cited in Crawford, Worsham, & Swinehart, 2006).
Thus, children may attach feelings of uncritical acceptance and comfort to the presence of pets and associated stimuli, and in doing so retain the ability for pets to evoke positive emotions over time. Even if the pet itself does not directly provide positivity, if the person believes that it does, than the result could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The internal cognitions about companion animals therefore appear to play a substantial role in their ability to influence interpretation of associated stimuli. Pets’ Physical Effects Past studies have shown that anxiety-inducing situations lead to increases in blood pressure and triglyceride levels (Barker & Dawson, 1998; Beck, 2005). This creates a health risk, as individuals who experience greater automatically mediated cardiovascular responses to stress may be at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (Allen et al., 1991). During a stressful mental arithmetic task, Allen, Blascovich, and Mendes (2002) found that pet owners exhibited lower heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure at baseline levels. In addition, pet owners showed lower reactivity to stress and higher resilience, as cardiovascular measures returned to baseline levels more quickly, compared to non-owners, following a stressinducing task. Thus, pets‟ stress-buffering effects are apparent, but this study seeks to differentiate the role of different types of pets in predicting positive health outcomes for people. Siegel (1990) found that for people owning dogs, the interaction between stressful life events and pet ownership was not a significant predictor of doctor contacts. However, for those people owning different types of pets, doctor contact increased as stressful life events increased. Pets, and in
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY particular dogs, appear to have the ability to create improved health, without the hefty financial costs and anxiety oftentimes associated with other mentally and physically focused medical practices offering similar health outcomes. Pets’ Social Effects
Pets are catalysts for social interaction. The benefits of pets are not isolated to a single population, but actually extend to many populations, while also increasing socialization between them (Beck & Katcher, 1996). Mader, Hart, and Bergin (1989) found that disabled children are given increased social acknowledgement from adults when accompanied by service dogs. Social acknowledgement towards people in a wheelchair from passersby dramatically increased in frequency if a service dog was present (Mader et al., 1989 as cited in Paul, 2001). Pets have the ability to modify their environments, including the perceptions of the people in them. In several empirical studies, evidence has been found that strangers shown in a photograph with a pet were perceived by participants as happier, friendlier, more relaxed, and less threatening than people shown in the absence of pets (Rossbach & Wilson, 1992 as cited in Paul, 2001). Lockwood (1986) found similar results when he showed two sets of photos, one set containing people with pets, and another with only people, and asked participants to rate each of the people in the pictures. Participants rated people in photographs with pets as having more positive social identities than those pictured without pets (as cited in Beck & Katcher, 1996). The presence of pets in the family offers an unbiased avenue for feelings of satisfaction in social support systems that does not threaten the strength or general existence of social relationships with other humans. In a study on relationships among family members and their pets, Bonas et al. (2001) found no evidence for the idea that humans use their relationships with pets in an insalubrious way to compensate for deficits in social support from other humans. Pets
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY do not displace or disrupt social bond between people, but they offer social support that complements that provided from human relationships. Therefore, current study has a sound
rationale for comparing the social support received from a companion animal as independent, but analogous to, the social support from human-human relationships (Bonas et al., 2001; Daly & Morton, 2009). People with pets are seen as more socially accessible than people without pets. Endenburg and Baarda (1995) found that children with pets have wider social networks and are perceived as more popular by their classmates than those without pets. Pets‟ ability to increase socialization may play a mediating role for their ability to increase empathy. Increased social interactions have been associated with higher empathy (Nezlek, 2001). Greater sociability has been associated with large increases in empathy over time, even for infants from 14- to 20months of age, the earliest age that empathy begins to reflect a synergy of environmental and constitutional influences (Robinson Zahn-Waxler, & Emde, 1994). Pets’ Socio-Emotional Effects Lead to Lasting Psychological Benefits Human beings rely on connectedness with others for mental health via: (1) receiving social support, and (2) demonstrating care about people and other living things (Bryant, 1990). These two forms of connectedness are readily and plentifully available in companion animal bonds. Pets offer effective socio-emotional support through their ability to provide unconditional positive regard towards their human companions. Pets do not expect perfection, maturity, or success, nor are they held to these expectations. There is an understanding in human-pet interactions that the pet is dependent upon the human for care. Providing care instills feelings of connectedness with the pet, as well as promoting self-directed feelings of competence and responsibility in the caretaker.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Pets are distinctive in their non-evaluative nature compared to humans. Allen, Blascovich, Tomaka, & Kelsey (1991) suggest that perceiving one‟s social support as non-
evaluative is imperative to the efficacy of the support. Allen et al. (1991) found that the support of a dog during a stress-inducing task was more effective at reducing all physiological measures of cardiovascular reactivity compared to support offered by either a spouse or close friend. This is attributed to the presence of human companions evoking anxiety, fear of judgment, and performance expectations to the subject‟s mind during the task. Pets have been retrospectively rated by young adults as providing higher levels of social support than neighbors, television, and relatives during childhood (Juhasz, 1983 as cited in Davis & Juhasz, 1985; Vidovic, Arambasic, Kerestes, Kuterovac-Jagodic, & Stetic, 2001). Young adults have been found to rate relationships with their pets as higher than those with parents, siblings, or classmates (Poresky, 1987). Finally, 40% of adults in the AAHA‟s 2004 Pet Survey reported that their pet listens better than their spouse or significant other. Therefore, evidence suggests that pets can offer a unique kind of support to people of all ages that may be less available in human-human interactions and relationships. Understanding and Defining the Companion animal Bond The strength of the companion animal bond is considered in this study to be an impetus for heightened empathic development in humans. In order to consider the relationship between bonding with one‟s pet and empathic development, the bond and the empathy construct must be reduced to their individual components, and an operationalizable definition formed through an amalgamation of these components. The companion animal bond was defined in terms of affective, behavioral, and cognitive attachment components that were theorized to relate to the development of affective and cognitive empathy, and the appropriate prosocial response to
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY vicariously experiencing another‟s mental state. In order to extract the relationship between qualities within a companion animal bond and the formation of emotional and cognitive empathy, we must first understand the three components of attachment. Attachment Components that Comprise the Companion animal Bond Children, compared to adults, show a uniquely high degree of emotional closeness to their pets (Bryant, 1990; Levinson, 1971; Melson, 1988; Poresky & Hendrix, 1990; Vidovic et
al. 1999; Vidovic et al., 2001). When people feel attached, Melson (1990) explains that they are motivated to maintain closeness with their attachment object, which provides comfort and security, and to continue the relationship with it. These motivations are expressed through positive interest and emotion directed at the attachment object. When asked what they considered most important qualities of their relationship with their pet, children responded that they value mutual caring, sharing, support, and the enduring quality of the companion animal relationship (Bryant, 1990). In other words, they indicated strong affective, behavioral, and cognitive attachment for the pet. As a result of the secure attachment towards the pet, which provides the child with socio-emotional support, children are motivated and able to express themselves through prosocial behaviors. We will discuss later how these behaviors towards pets likely translate to treatment towards animals and other people. Attachment towards one‟s pet has three separate, but interrelated, dimensions based on attachment theory that, in combination, are defined in this study to constitute the formation of a companion animal bond, according to research on relationships between children and their pets. These three interrelated components of attachment are: (a) affective attachment, (b) behavior attachment, and (c) cognitive attachment (Melson et al., 1991). By examining the role of each of these aspects in the formation of the bond, Melson et al. found that each was important in
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY
predicting stronger bonding between a child and their pet. Melson et al. (1991) state that, “This research argues that an attachment relationship… is significant for later development because the child constructs a mental model of this relationship which is carried forward as a framework in establishing new relationships” (p. 62). The degree to which children develop a mental model of the companion animal bond is considered to be analogous to the degree of attachment felt, and may potentially determine the extent of its influence on lifespan development. Affective attachment. Affective attachment consists of the child‟s emotional expressions of interest and closeness with their pet (Melson et al., 1991). Melson et al. found that children who show more affective attachment have more complex ideas about pets and their care than children with less affective attachment. Affective attachment is associated with descriptions of the child-pet bond in more evaluative terms, with more reference to physical activity in interactions with the pet, by the pet itself, and that involved in caring for the pet. By interacting with pets that are totally dependent on the owner, children learn to understand the feelings and needs of animals and those of fellow human beings from an early age (Endenburg & Baarda, 1995). Levinson (1978) states that, “Communicating with a non-verbal creature… requires empathy, an ability to imagine how another thinks and feels, a capacity for mentally stepping into the other‟s place and to some extent experiencing what he is experiencing” (p. 1036). The companion animal bond is thereby facilitated by the nonverbal request by the pet for care from a care-providing human. In order to gain an understanding of the pet and its needs, the child must be aware and responsive to the animal‟s nonverbal communication. Behavioral attachment. Behavioral attachment consists of the child‟s involvement in physical activity with the pet, such as playing and caregiving. In addition to offering socio-
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY
emotional support, pets provide people with an easily assessable way to show care and nurturing of another, the second way that humans can use their pets to improve feel interconnectedness with others (Bryant, 1990). Pets‟ inability for speech requires their caretakers to display acute sensitivity in order to interpret their nonverbal requests. In caring for the pet, a good caretaker must be attuned to their nonverbal cues to adapt to their needs, provide appropriate care, and concomitantly gain an understanding and appreciation of their unique personality. In response, pets, and dogs in particular, are acutely attuned to the emotions of their regular caretakers, and portray an ability to offer support in the absence of explicit explanation through language. The ability for empathic understanding is inherent in a caring human-companion animal relationship. Cognitive attachment. Cognitive attachment consists of the child‟s ideas about the pet and its care (Melson et al., 1991). Thus, attachment is an internal cognitive process, subjective to the person within the companion animal bond. Cognitive attachment scores were considered by Melson et al. to represent a first step in developing an “internal working model” for the bonding relationship. Thus, the relationship leads to changes in internal processing towards interpersonal relationships that translate to later prosocial behaviors towards animals and people alike. The relationships considered to be most important to people are assumed to have the greatest influence on their development for this reason. Ownership, Attachment, and Bonding Strength Predict Effects on Empathy Predictors of Pets’ Effects: Ownership Compared to Bonding One of the core problems in research on companion animal relations today is the lack of a clear definition for what population is most affected by pets, and thus the target population for study. The result is a nebulous body of research findings, which are limited in comparability due to their use of variable populations and measures. The current study is unique in its reliance on
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY the strength of the companion animal bond, as a compilation of attachment components, to describe one‟s relationship with their pet, but does not exclude the importance of ownership in
studying pets‟ effects. The likelihood of forming a bond based on physical presence alone is not very high, and pet ownership is instead seen as the precursor to the development of strong affective, behavior, and cognitive attachment that comprise the companion animal bond. Pet ownership alone is an inconsistent way to predict pets’ effects. Numerous studies have shown that pet ownership is an unreliable predictor of which populations are most benefitted by pets (Ascione, 1992; Daly & Morton, 2009; Davis & Juhasz, 1985; Poresky, Hendrix, Mosier, & Samuelson, 1987; Poresky, Hendrix, Mosier, & Samuelson, 1988; Poresky, 1989; Poresky & Hendrix, 1990; Poresky, 1996). If physical vicinity alone (i.e. pet present in one‟s environment) leads to pets‟ emotional, physical, psychological and/or social effects, the degree and manner in which pets affect humans would not vary so drastically within the petowning populations, nor would effects be as prevalent among non-pet-owners (Melson, 1990). Poresky and Hendrix (1990) found that no difference, in a variety of personality measures, was displayed between pet owning and non-pet-owning children, and that these effects were only revealed by shifting the focus to how children viewed their relationship with their pet(s). Poresky and Hendrix found that children viewed themselves has having stronger bonds with their pets had higher empathy, social competence, and cooperation than children with a weaker bond with their pets. Gendler (1997) states that, “Pet ownership alone does not ensure a positive experience and/or bond with the pet; it does not ensure a relationship at all” (p. 52). Simply declaring a relationship as a result of owning a pet fails to account for the subjective experiences of the human and pet in the formation and maintenance of their feelings towards one another. By
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY relying on physical presence and ignoring the interactions and feelings that constitute a relationship, this approach to studying human-animal interactions ignores the bulk of what constitutes a “pet,” rather than “an animal.” It certainly does not address the companionship aspect explicit within the term, “companion animal.” A companion animal bond is not only descriptive of the human‟s owned property, but constitutes a social relationship between the person and pet that pet ownership alone does not address (Bonas, et al., 2001). While state empathy has not been found to differ as a function of positive or negative achievement events, the more social events people had, the more empathic they felt (Nezlek, 2001). Mean state empathy levels were found to be positively related to overall trait empathy
levels, giving the role of social events when empathy is forming greater pertinence in predicting overall trait empathy level. Nezlek states that social contact is indeed “a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for empathy.” Thus, research exploring the beneficial effects of pets should look for more complex factors than mere ownership of or social contact with companion animals in predicting heightened empathy. This research conjectures that effects on empathy should be explored in pet owners in terms of the strength of their companion animal bonds. Thus, pet ownership is an external factor that increases the likelihood of social contact with pets, attachment, and the formation of companion animal bonds. The companion animal bond is not dependent on proximity, but is a lasting archetypal cognitive and affective representation of relationships with companion animals in their entirety. The representation of the companion animal bond takes into account the most prominent past and current effects resulting from relationships with companion animals that continue to be seen as meaningful to one‟s life.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Pet bonding is an internal process that inherently involves and promotes empathic
understanding. Pets contribute to empathy internally by changing the way that people think and feel to the degree that they conceptualize their relationship with the pet as positively supportive, secure, and meaningful. The more meaningful a bond with one‟s pet, the more likely the relationship was to have internally influenced the human being‟s thoughts and emotions, and consequently, the more likely external behaviors are modified. The lasting internalized and intrinsic effects of the pet are likely to lead to more salient effects on the individual‟s empathy development than the extrinsic benefits that may have been more influential in forming the bond when the pet was regularly present in the individual‟s environment. In this way, ownership is a relatively small causal variable in predicting pets‟ effects, but interacts with the degree of attachment towards pets in constructing the internal representation of the companion animal bond. Exploring the Origins, Development, and Characteristics of Empathy Pets’ Socio-emotional Support Promotes the Development of Empathy The process of empathic development as a function of genetics, external influences, and internal cognitions differs from individual to individual, but a strong internal motivation to bond with one‟s pet in childhood may have the ability to lead to persistent affects on overall empathy. Empathy is important because it facilitates understanding of other‟s thoughts and emotions, nonverbal communication, and adaptive, prosocial responding to others (Spreng et al., 2009; Zahn-Waxler, Robinson, & Emde, 1992). Pets offer a secure attachment relationship and increase positive social support systems, both of which are considered the prerequisites of empathic development in childhood (Anderson, 2008).
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Children report that they value the mutuality, a construct found to be highly correlated with companionship, as the most important benefit from companion animal bonding with pets
(Bryant, 1990). Children feel confident that their pets will consistently display positive behaviors towards them (Bryant, 1982). Children can rely on interactions with pets as opportunities to feel comfortable being themselves. Within the secure relationship, these provisions of support lead to enhanced self-concept, self-esteem, and feelings of industry. A large majority (83%) of middle childhood aged participants studied by Bryant (1982) reported that their pet was a “special friend” to them who increased their feelings of self-esteem. The pet is unique because it “accept[s] the child for what he is, not for what he might or ought to be” (Levinson, 1978, p. 1034). In this way, children begin to value the secure attachment relationship and socioemotional support provided by pets, and these values influence future socio-emotional personality development. When asked what they valued most from their bond with their companion animal, children reported that pets‟ ability to enhance affection for themselves was equally important as the quality of the bond to provide feelings of enduring affection (Bryant, 1990). Children‟s reports show that they place high value on the intransient nature of mutual love, acceptance, and care within the child-pet relationship. The mere nature of the child-pet relationship and the centrality of characteristics of enduring affection and mutuality to children, strongly suggests that the feelings that children have towards/as a result the relationship with pet(s) are likely to remain salient in the children‟s value system. As a result, it is likely that the internally processed effects resulting from the companion animal bond will integrate into the individual‟s lasting psyche and remain available over time.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Boys and girls with high empathy during pre-adolescence develop more positive social
behaviors conducive to socialization, enhanced self-concept, enhanced global self-concept, and display fewer negative social behaviors that disrupt socialization (Garaigordobil, 2009). A more positive social orientation and prosocial behaviors towards others have been found to correlate with empathic ability (Garaigordobil, 2009; Vidovic, et al., 2001). By offering a source of mutual support and security, the companion animal bond provides the child with heightened selfconcept, which in turn promotes confidence to increase socialization with others, leading to enhanced interpersonal skills and mental health (Bryant, 1990; Eisenberg et al., 1999; Levinson, 1978; Van Houtte & Jarvis, 1995). Defining and measuring empathy. Current research on empathy is difficult to generalize. Empathy is defined and measured in varying ways throughout scientific literature, making study results difficult to compare, and to produce coherent conclusions about its stability, or variance, over the lifespan (Daly & Morton, 2003; Eisenberg et al., 1999; Garaigordobil, 2004; Garaigordobil, 2009; Gendler, 1997; Gerdes, Segal, & Lietz, 2010; Nezlek, 2001; Spreng, McKinnon, Mar, & Levine; 2009). Gerdes et al. (2010) state that in their most recent literature review, there was no common consensus among researchers on how to measure empathy. Researchers have defined empathy synonymously with compassion, kindness, and sentimentality (Daly & Morton, 2003), as well as concepts of emotional contagion and perspective-taking (Spreng et al., 2009; Zahn-Waxler, Robinson, & Emde, 1992). Baron-Cohen et al. (2001) state that empathy overlaps with the concept of social sensitivity and “theory of mind,” or the ability to match mental states to another‟s thoughts and emotions. Appearing more commonly than other related concepts appears to be the comparison of empathy to sympathy
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY (Daly & Morton, 2003; Hoffman, 2000; Paul, 2000; Spreng et al., 2009). The result of the
ambiguity in defining empathy is that researchers today are relying on definitions over a decade or two old (i.e. Davis, 1983; Bryant, 1987; Hoffman, 2000 as cited in Gerdes et al, 2010). Empathy has affective and cognitive components. Recent progress in defining empathy has revolved around the growing acceptance that empathy is comprised of both affective and cognitive components (Beck & Katcher, 1996; Daly & Morton, 2003; Nezlek, 2001; Spreng et al., 2009; Zahn-Waxler et al., 1992). Contributing to the inconsistency in the study of empathy is the decision for different experimenters to focus on only one of these two components, to include more than two components, and/or to define those components differently (Paul, 2000). For example, Daly and Morton (2009) rely on three factors of empathy: (a) cognitive empathy, (b) emotional reactivity, and the added dimension of (c) social skills. Social skills involve the measure of skills related to social understanding, which was differentiated from cognitive empathy, seen as merely the appreciation of affective states rather than interpretation of them, in their experimental design. In order to define the cognitive and affective components of empathy, this researcher obtained and synthesized the most frequently utilized definitions across current research on empathy. Cognitive empathy is a conscious process that encompasses the internal process of awareness to other‟s perspectives (i.e. perspective-taking) and the ability to match perceived thoughts and emotions with their corresponding mental state (Daly & Morton, 2003; 2009; Gendler, 2007). Affective empathy is the vicarious emotional experience to another‟s mental state and one‟s decision to make a behavioral response to this experience (Daly & Morton, 2003; 2009; Eisenberg, 1995; Gendler, 2007; Nezlek, 2001). It requires the two elements of directionality of affect and self-other differentiation (Beck & Katcher, 1996; Gendler, 2007;
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Hoffman, 2000). Some researchers posit that emotional empathy includes both affective and cognitive components (Beck & Katcher, 1996; Daly & Morton, 2003).
Measuring empathy. Due to the variable definitions of empathy in current literature, it is necessary to utilize a definition that is applicable to a wide variety of populations and subsumes the various aspects utilized in current research investigating the multidimensional construct (Spreng, McKinnon, Mar, & Levine, 2009). Thus, this study tests empathic ability through a written empathy measure that integrates across all current self-report measures of empathy, in addition to including a correlated behavioral measure. The behavioral measure is intended to produce a more objective empathy score because it is not vulnerable to the same socialdesirability biases. As stated within Bryant (1982), “…actually experiencing emotions can be confounded with willingness to report experiencing emotions” (414). Self-report data should be administered and validated in conjunction with comparative phenomenological measures to yield the most accurate empathy scores (Gerdes et al., 2010). This study indexes internal affective experiences through a self-report measure of empathy and cognitive empathic accuracy by testing how well one can match an external facial expression with an internal mental state. Self-focused role-playing is less conscious and involves more emotion than the more cognitively demanding task of others-focused role taking. The combination of the two forms of role-taking is likely to be more predictive of empathic understanding than any single measure in isolation (Hoffman, 2000). These findings indicate that behavioral measures, in addition to self-reports of behavior frequency, are most accurate in combination in an ecologically representative empathy measure. The Constitutional and Environmental Influences on Empathy
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Several studies have revealed empathy to have a genetic component, yet this baseline is not consistent over maturation, as an interplay exists between genetics features of an empathy orientation present at birth and environmental influences that begin to play a role as children are integrated into their surrounding culture (Zahn-Waxler, Robinson, & Emde, 1992). Zahn-Waxler et al. (1992) found that empathic concern and unresponsive-indifference show a greater concordance for monozygotic than dizygotic twins. There was additional evidence for shared environmental effects, based on maternal reports. By the second year of life, twins in their study showed tendencies to: (a) experience emotional concern, (b) attempt to comprehend the nature of distress in others, and, to a limited degree, (c) engage in prosocial acts (Zahn-Waxler et al., 1992, pp. 1034-1044). Maternal reports of children‟s prosocial patterns showed evidence of heritability at 14 and 20 months, with a weaker correlation at 20 months for both monozygotic and dizygotic twins (Zahn-Waxler et al, 1992). Zahn-Waxler et al. explain the evidence for heritability stating, We would not assert that genes code for social emotional behaviors directly. Rather, genes code for enzymes that, in the context of the environment, influence patterns of brain chemistry and neurohormonal systems of individuals. These, in turn, affect how people act, think, and feel when exposed to distress in others, whether they cause or witness this distress. (p. 1045) Thus, the psychological triad of thought, behaviors, and emotions that comprise the personality, specifically, in this case, the personality trait of empathy, are influenced by an interplay between both constitutional and environmental factors from as early in the second year of life. Robinson et al. (1994) state that empathic development is continuous, yet particularly mutable to environmental influences during early personality development. Robinson et al. (1994) found results in support of the findings by Zahn-Waxler et al. (1992) suggesting that
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY environmental and constitutional features influence children‟s development beginning early in the second year of life. These factors were found to interact and influence empathy in different ways and to varying extents depending upon the individual‟s temperamental predispositions.
Daly and Morton (2003) posit that empathy is a personality trait, rather than an attitude, that is therefore more resistant to experiential influences. Although its constitutional basis suggests consistency over time, longitudinal research on empathic development and on the efficacy of intervention programs on emotional development suggest that empathy has the ability to be influenced by both internal and external factors (Ascione, 1992; Eisenberg et al., 1999; Gargaigordobil, 2004; Robinson et al., 1994). In examining the stability and endurance of empathic tendencies, data on the consistency of prosocial behaviors and dispositions across contexts, measures, reporters, and over time must be collected and considered (Eisenberg et al., 2002). In a longitudinal study, Robinson et al. tracked developmental change from 158 individual children selected from a sample of 184 twins previously studied in Zahn-Waxler et al. (1992) as they matured from 14 to 20 months of age. Researchers found that having a positive/sociable temperament moderated change and stability for children initially scoring low, mid-range, and highly on home and laboratory behavioral tests of empathy. A global rating of empathy was described based on: (a) cognitive features (i.e. complexity of hypothesis testing), including both non-verbal and verbal behaviors; and (b) emotional features (i.e. emotional arousal and empathic concern); and (c) prosocial behaviors. Greater positive/sociable ratings of temperament were associated with increases toward and maintenance of high empathy scores. Greater sociability was associated with large increases in empathy over time, while adverse family conditions were associated with large drops in
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY empathy among children initially scoring at both the middle and upper end of the distribution.
This reduction in empathy was especially prominent for females. For females only, there was an association between reduced empathy from 14 to 20 months and experiencing lower levels of maternal warmth and less positive family adaptation. Empathy levels in young adults can only be feasibly attributed to a childhood companion animal bond if empathy can be impacted by external influences during childhood, and show a gradual plateau in variability as the individual matures. Eisenberg et al. (2002) conducted a longitudinal study in order to investigate the consistency of empathy over time. Data were collected through interviews and surveys every two years to the same group of individuals (N = 32) from preschool aged 4-5 (T1) until the ages of 25-26 (T12). Results on the Empathic Concern (EC) sub-scale of the IRI at ages 20-21 (T10) and at T12 were positively related to individuals‟ empathy on Bryant‟s (1982) scale at ages 11-12 (T5) and 13-14 (T6). Gargaigordobil (2009) found that when empathy scores were compared across individuals in age groups of 10-11, 12-13, and 13-14 years old, the capacity for empathy did not differ as a function of age. Individuals‟ empathic development stabilizes by the age range of 1014 years and is maintained throughout adulthood (Eisenberg, Guthrie, Cumberland, & Murphy 2002; Gargaigordobil, 2009). The result is a measurable, and thus somewhat internally stable, empathy level that is indicative of the individual‟s growth augmentation as a product of genetic baseline, accumulative experiences, and development in concept of self. Even after internally stabilizing, empathy can be externally influenced to internally increase during pre-adolescent years through implementation of intervention programs designed to make students aware of how to emotionally, socially, and psychologically handle problems based on their developmental age. Garaigordobil (2004) compared pre-intervention and post-
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY intervention empathy scores to determine if a psychological intervention on emotional development could lead to changes in empathy levels of 12-14 year old adolescents (N = 174).
Results showed that participants showed increases in empathy from pre-test to post-test over the course of the psychological intervention. Empathy has stabilized by adolescence, but maintains its ability to be influenced. Generalizability of Empathy towards Pets and People Positive attitudes towards pets are associated with stronger empathy towards other people, making the effects of pets on empathic development even more meaningful to society (Anderson, 2008; Ascione, 1992; Paul, 2000; Poresky, 1990; Poresky, 1996; Taylor & Signal, 2005; Vidovic et al., 2001). Children who form strong bonds with pets have also been found to show more positive attitudes towards animals in general (Poresky, 1990). Daly & Morton (2009) showed that for adults who currently owned cats-only, dogs-only, or both cats and dogs, as well as those in the same ownership categories in childhood, report more positive attitudes towards animals than those owning neither a cat or dog. Adults reporting ownership of dogs-only or both dogs and cats in childhood also reported higher Empathy Quotient social skills. When pet ownership in adulthood was considered, the dog-only group showed higher Empathy Quotient social skills and lower personal distress than the cat-only or both cat and dog groups. Thus, a more positive attitude towards animals was associated with ownership of dogs, and both were most predictive of higher empathy in socialization with other people. Vidovic et al. (2001) found that young adults who owned pets in childhood had higher empathy towards both pets and people than those who did not own pets in childhood. In addition, they were more likely to pursue a „helping profession‟ and to be oriented towards social values than those who did not own a pet in childhood. Paul (2000) found that participants who owned
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY pets in childhood had significantly higher animal-oriented empathy scores than those who had not owned pets in childhood, but also found that their human-oriented empathy scores did not significantly differ on this dimension alone. Nonetheless, he did find animal-oriented and human-oriented empathy scores to be significantly positively correlated. Results suggest that empathy towards different kinds of animal targets has shared and non-shared components with
empathy directed towards other humans. The role of attitudes towards different pet types, rather than companion animals in general, was not specifically addressed, and could potentially differentiate generalizable effects on human-oriented empathy. Empathy may be more easily influenced from intervention programs in later childhood due to the development of such cognitive processes as meta-cognition, self-other differentiation, and other-oriented sympathy (Beck & Katcher, 1996; Eisenberg et al., 1999; Hoffman, 2000; Robinson et al., 1994). In a pretest-posttest design, Ascione (1992) investigated the effects of a 40-hour school-based humane education program on animal-related attitudes in 765 early (first and second grade) and late (fourth and fifth grade) elementary school students. The experimental group was exposed to 40 hours of activities and lessons integrated throughout the general curriculum that covered four general areas and 35 concepts related to human-animal relationships, companion animals, wild animals, and farm animals. Teachers of classrooms in the control group were asked to withhold teaching related lessons until after the study concluded. Results showed that at the end of the school year, early elementary school students did not differ in animal-related attitudes or empathy. However, on the Bryant primary empathy measure (by Bryant, 1982), there was a main effect of gender, with girls scoring higher than boys. For older children, grades four and five, there was not a significant effect for treatment, grade, or gender, but there was an interaction between treatment and grade. Fourth grade
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY students had more positive attitudes towards animals than fifth graders. However, the fifth graders in the control condition were unexpectedly provided with 20 hours of human-attitudes education. Despite this discrepancy between control conditions, the treatment condition still showed more positive animal-oriented attitudes than the control did, suggesting that older elementary aged children can be influenced to change their attitudes towards animals using
classroom-based humane education methods. In addition, older elementary school students in the humane education condition who had higher animal-oriented attitudes also had higher humanoriented empathy. Ascione (1992) does not discriminate between companion animals and others, as he integrates wild and farm animals into the human attitudes towards animal program. Therefore, findings on animal-related attitudes may be less directly relevant to the current study than results showing the generalization of animal-related attitudes to human-oriented empathy. Regardless of grade, more positive attitudes towards animals generalized to higher empathy towards humans. Pets’ Lasting Impact on Empathy Development Pet ownership appears to reach its highest frequency and has the greatest impact in middle childhood years, a time when experiences are building the foundation for future selfconcepts of what constitutes one‟s personality, values, and beliefs (Davis & Juhasz, 1985; Melson, 1988; Paul & Serpell, 1992). Theorists consider personality and prosocial development as a hierarchical process that is quite variable in youth, but stabilizes with maturation as one develops and maintains a sense of self (Hoffman, 2000). At pre-adolescence, individuals experience a childhood identity conflict and begin the process of building their adult identity (Erickson, 1959; Sullivan, 1953 as cited in Davis & Jugasz, 1985; Garaigordobil, 2004). A strong bond with a pet before this sense of self is fully established, particularly during the years
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY of middle childhood/pre-adolescence, is expected to have the greatest impact on personality development (Levinson, 1978). A general agreement exists among researchers of a positive association between the companion animal bond and empathic development in children (Endenburg & Baarda, 1995; Levinson, 1978; Melson, et al., 1991; Poresky & Hendrix, 1990; Poresky, 1996; Vidovic et al., 1999; Vidovic, et al., 2001). However, of these studies, only one considered the saliency of pets‟ effects on empathy into young adulthood (i.e. Vidovic, et al.,
2001), and did so using pet ownership as a grouping variable. Thus, current literature suggests a need for future research on the relationship between companion animal bonding and empathy in older populations, as well as attention to the saliency of pets‟ effects over time. Hypothesis 1: It is hypothesized that the stronger the companion animal bond with the dog selected as most important in their lives, the greater the effects the relationship will have had on the individual‟s empathic development from youth to young adulthood. Theory behind experimental manipulation to subconsciously activate empathy through thoughts of the companion animal bond. Research has indicated that the mere conceptualization of companion animals can lead to quantifiable effects on human behavior (e.g. Hoffman, 2000), thus indicating changes in internal processing as a result of a strong companion animal bond. Given the nature of the effects as internally developed and sustained, they are liable to persist over time and space, with their presence activated by stimuli that have been cognitively associated with past conceptualizations of the companion animal. The source of thoughts of one‟s pet while they are not present may vary from person to person as a function of individual experiences and interpretations of environmental cues. Thoughts of the relationship with one‟s pet are suggested to mediate the relationship between pet-ownership and improved psychological
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY functioning through the development of affective, behavior, and cognitive attachment and resulting strength of the companion animal bond. Evidence therefore suggests that it is not only feasible, but also desirable, to rely on subjective interpretations of the most important human-pet relationship when considering how
companion animals affect people in the long-term. The lasting interpretation of the influence of the companion animal bond on people‟s lives provide highly credible information that is difficult, if not impossible, to fully encompass in observational studies or glean by questioning those close to the owner. By gaining information from individuals themselves on the pet they consider most important in their lives, data collection takes into account individuals‟ perceptions of their life and beliefs resulting from the accumulation of personal experiences. As data is not associated with the individual in this study, the current study accounts for the bias that may occur if others were asked about the individual‟s relationship with their pet through the use of a selfreport and behavioral empathy measures, by addressing the possibility of discrepancies in internal and external presentation of affect towards the pet. An interaction exists between internal and external influences on empathy that makes it possible to activate internal empathic reactions with associated external cues in a subconscious manner. Hoffman (2000) explains that there are three “preverbal, automatic, and essentially involuntary cues” that require the shallowest level of cognitive processing to activate empathic arousal. These three cues are: (a) mimicry and afferent feedback; (b) classical conditioning; and (c) direct association of cues from one‟s internal and/or external environments. Hoffman states that, The three preverbal modes are crucial for arousing empathy in childhood especially in face-to-face situations, but they continue to operate and provide
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY empathy with an important involuntary dimension throughout life. They not only enable a person to respond to whatever cues are available, but they also compel him to do it – instantly, automatically, and without requiring conscious awareness. (p. 5) Therefore, activation of thoughts concerning a past relationship with a companion animal that
had an influence on empathic development is suggested to subconsciously heighten empathy at that time. Participants who are reminded of the companion animal bond will show equal or higher empathy scores than those who were not reminded because the relationship that internally influenced their current empathy levels will be more cognitively available for recall and movement into working memory when completing the empathy measures that follow the bondactivating or bond-distracting writing task. This manipulation has ecological validity because of the frequency that people report thinking about their pets. The 2004 Pet Owner Survey by AAHA asked participants how often they thought about their pet while away from it during the day again found that 54% reported that thinking about their pet at least a few times per day, and 21% reported that they thought about their pet all the time. Only 3% of responds never thought about their pet. Currently, there is a scarcity of studies on whether activation of thoughts about companion animal bonds from childhood can induce positive, internal changes in socioemotional capabilities in young adults, and the role that the strength of the bond plays in the ability to activate empathy. Gender Difference in Companion animal Bonding and Empathy: Are they linked? Females tend to score higher on empathy measures than males regardless of age, indicating a significant gender difference in empathic development that remains present over time (Bryant, 1982; Garaigordobil, 2009; Paul, 2000; Vidovic et al., 1999; Zahn-Waxler et al.,
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY 1992). Females are also more likely than males to form close, affective relationships with their pets, regardless of age (Ascione, 1992; Paul, 2000; Vidovic et al., 1999). If stronger bonding
with companion animals does lead to greater empathic development, it may be that the tendency for females to bond more readily with their pets could explain the findings that females have higher empathy levels overall compared to males. Hypothesis 2: Females will have stronger companion-animal bonding and higher empathy than males. Females and males may differ in the way that companion animal bonding leads to effects on empathy. Taylor and Signal (2005) found that women‟s higher pro-welfare attitudes towards animals, as measured by the Animal Attitude Scale (AAS), positively correlated with their empathy scores on the Empathic Concern (EC) subscale of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) (developed by Davis, 1980). The EC subscale of the IRI measures feelings of warmth, compassion, and concern for others. In contrast, males‟ scores did not correlate between the AAS and EC scales. Thus, differences in empathy may result as a function of gender, the strength of the companion-animal bond, or be a result of an interaction between gender and bonding strength on empathy. This interaction between gender and bonding strength has yet to be examined with companion-animals specifically, rather than with animals in general. Garaigordobil (2004) found that girls aged 12-14 not only showed higher empathy than males prior to an intervention program designed to promote emotional development, but may be more easily influenced by external factors than boys within this age group. Intervention took place in once a week, two-hour sessions across one academic year. Girls‟ empathy levels were found to increase more than boys, across both sub-groups of ages 12-13 and 13-14 years old. As this intervention program was held in increments over the course of only one year, the effects of
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY having a companion animal who is consistently integrated into one‟s lifestyle and routine at an earlier developmental stage could hold even stronger potential for increasing empathy. Hypothesis 3: As a result of the experimental manipulation, participants in the bond reminded condition will have equal or higher empathy, as measured by the MIE and TEQ, than participants in the bond distracted condition. Females will be more susceptible to increase their empathic responses as a result of the empathyactivating manipulation than males. Females in the bond reminded condition will have higher empathy scores than males in the bond reminded condition. Differentiating Bonding with Dogs and Cats as Distinct from Other Pets
A companion animal bond can exist between humans and any animal, but is most likely to form between animals that are more frequently owned and those who appeal for their owners to show them nurture and care in a manner he/she is able to understand (Bryant, 1982, 1990). Dogs and cats are the most commonly owned pets in Western society (Melson et al., 1991). Poresky (1996) found that children with pets present in the household have higher companion animal bonding scores than those not living in the presence of pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) found that of the 75.3% of households owning pets considered to be companion animals (i.e. dogs, cats, birds, horses), dogs and cats comprised 69.6%, or approximately 80,481,000 households in the United States (AVMA, 2007). People more commonly report owning cats and dogs in childhood, rather than only dogs or only cats (Daly & Morton, 2009). Daly and Morton found that individuals with dogs or dogs and cats in childhood have more positive attitudes towards animals in adulthood than people who grew up with neither. Of dogs and cats, it is important to distinguish interspecies differences in their archetypal
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interactions within the human-pet relationship, to subsequently determine, separate, and compare the nature of their effects on the lives of their owners. Daly and Morton (2003) countered findings that companion animal bonding leads to higher empathy when they found no significant correlations between bonding and empathy among pet-owners, dog owners, or cat owners. However, when dog owners were considered separately from cat owners and overall empathy was computed, dog owners had significantly higher empathy than cat owners. This finding could indicate a drive for more empathic people to own dogs, or dog owners to show higher empathy. Evidence from Daly and Morton suggest the former, as dog owners were comparable to non-owners in empathy levels, and cat owners showed depressed empathy in comparison. However, Daly & Morton (2009) found that adults who owned dogs only in childhood developed characteristics of lower personal distress and higher social skills than those with other who owned cats or other types of pets. This trend remained apparent when participants were questioned about current pet ownership in adulthood. These findings present the possibility that some types of pets may provide greater degrees of emotional support and lasting positive effects on socio-emotional development. These conclusions about the effects of different pet types on people shows discrepancies in current literature and highlights the need for further research on the variables that contribute to supportive findings for an association between companion animal bonding and empathy. There is currently a lack of differentiation of effects related to pet types in the current literature exploring the human-animal bond (Daly & Morton, 2003; Paul & Serpell, 1993). Humans prefer dogs to cats. Dogs in particular, albeit followed closely by cats, are acknowledged to have the strongest emotional and cognitive impacts on the lives of individuals with whom they share frequent and prolonged interactions compared to other types of pets
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY (Gendler, 1997). Vidovic, Stetic, and Bratko (1999) found that children owning dogs and cats reported higher levels of attachment to their pets than children owning other kinds of pets. Of 213 children grades three through seven, 51% identified dogs as their favorite kind of pet and 27% identified cats as their favorite. The remaining 22% were divided into much smaller percentages among fish, rodents, horses, rabbits, and reptiles, from greatest to least popular respectively. Daly and Morton (2003) found that of a sample of 137 students ages 9-14, more than 60% reported that they “would love” to have a dog. Cats were reported as the second preferred choice, with a much smaller portion (25%) of subjects rating them as preferred pets.
One reason that dogs may be more popular than cats is because of their inimitable, evolutionary ability to be acutely aware of humans‟ body language and cues, which together are estimated to make up 93% of human communication (Anderson, 2008). This allows for a greater mutuality within the human-dog relationship. Dogs provide a higher degree of social support than cats. In support of the enhanced ability for non-evaluative communication with dogs, families report that dogs offer a greater degree of social support than other types of companion animals. In fact, they may even provide social support reaching levels comparable to that found in human-human relationships (Bonas et al., 2001). In a descriptive study, Barker and Barker (1988) found that dog owners reported feeling as emotionally close to their dogs as to their closest family member (as cited in Barker & Wolen, 2008). Bonas et al. (2001) conducted an empirical analysis to determine how social support in human-pet (n = 244) and human-human relationships (n = 256) varies within a family. Dogs were found to even exceed aspects of social support in human-human relationships in ratings of perceived companionship, reliable alliance, and nurturance. In contrast, cats do not provide social support comparable to levels within human-human relationships. Cats ranked as
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY providing less social support than dogs, although greater support than all other types of pets (Bonas et al., 2001). Human-dog relationships had the highest satisfaction ratings compared to all other pets, including relationships with cats. Subjects‟ ratings of their satisfaction with human-human and human-dog relationships did not differ from one another as a function of familial role (i.e. mother, father, son, daughter).
Dogs may be unique in the level of social support they provide in comparison to cats, but does this difference in provisions of social support and satisfaction result in a discriminated ability to benefit people? Is the closer bond reported between humans and dogs likely to make their effects on empathy more prominent? By including only participants who owned a dog prior to the age of 16 when empathy is considered to have stabilized, effects on empathy should be clear. If bonding with a dog is indeed more likely than bonding with other types of pets, and this bonding is shown to relate to empathy, a population of dog owners should display the effects of the relationship in a more obvious manner than a population of pet owners owning a diversity of pet types. Effects of the Strength of the Companion animal Bond on Empathy Development The ideas that one holds about their most meaningful companion animal bonds provide an informative foundation for examining the effects of the pet on the individual‟s empathic development. Children who perceive their relationships with their pets as important are more likely to have higher empathy than those who place less value in their relationships with their pets (Poresky, 1990; Vidovic et al., 1999). Vidovic et al. also found that children with lower than average attachment to their pets did not differ in empathy levels from those without pets, showing the importance of one‟s ideas about the pet on its‟ effects. Poresky (1996) found that the stronger children‟s companion animal bonding, the higher their empathy. These same children,
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY who had stronger bonding in relationships with pets, also showed greater cooperation when
interviewed. Similar correlations were not found when the child-pet relationship was quantified in terms of pet ownership alone. The attachment that one feels towards his/her pet is the foundation for the formation of a companion animal bond. Perceiving the relationship as important then supplies it with the ability to have an internal influence on the owner‟s thoughts, feelings, and actions, and thus the empathic values inherent within the companion animal bond are internalized. These effects are likely to interact with the individual‟s environmental and constitutional circumstances. Factors influencing the strength of the companion animal bond. The strength of this bond varies greatly and it is therefore important to consider the variables that influence the strength of bonding between people and pets when investigating the formation of empathic understanding. Having pets in the household may externally influence people‟s thoughts and emotions in a transient manner dependent on proximity. Mediating the relationship between pet ownership and the formation of a bond is the documented positive relationship between physical proximity and perceived psychological closeness (Gaurdo, 1969 as cited in Bryant, 1982). People who own pets are frequently exposed to their presence and may be more likely to feel attached to them, and thus bond with them, then those who see them less frequently. However, it is unclear the role that owning more than one pet at a time in childhood plays on the strength of companion animal bonding and empathy development. Owning more than one dog may require fewer interactions with each dog individually, as feelings of attachment and caretaking behaviors in response to nonverbal cues must be distributed to multiple attachment objects. In addition, the social support provided by each dog may not be perceived to be as strong. Thoughts of the bond with one dog considered most
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY important to each participant‟s life may be more difficult to recall and more likely to be confounded with concurrent feelings towards relationships with the other dogs present in the
household at the same time. This may make reduce the saliency of effects on empathy from the dog considered most important less cognitively available, and thus less influential, over time. Hypothesis 4: The presence of more than one dog in the household at the same time as the dog considered most important in each participant‟s life will be associated with weaker companion-animal bonding and lower empathy scores compared to participants who only owned the one most important dog. Pets act as important social companions and playmates for children, especially those with fewer comparable opportunities within their family household. Children may look to their pets to provide them with opportunities for connectedness that are not as readily available from other people or family members within the household. For children of mothers employed outside of the home, pets are more likely to be considered as special friends than for children of stay-athome mothers (Bryant, 1986; Melson, 1988; Melson et al., 1991). In addition, Melson (1998) found that mothers‟ work hours relate to the amount of caretaking performed by children for their pet(s). Physical activity with a pet has been associated with stronger affective attachment between a child and their pet(s) (Melson et al., 1991). The more hours the mother works, the more of the child‟s time is spent performing physical maintenance, or displaying behavior attachment, for the pet. Caretaking of a pet has been found to positively correlate with empathy in kindergarten, second-grade, and fifth-grade children, showing a working model of the bond that reflects cognitive attachment to the pet (Melson et al., 1991). As a result, children whose
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY mothers work more hours may acquire stronger affection and greater responsibility for the pet, leading to a stronger companion animal bond. Pets are oftentimes considered more important to children with few or no siblings (Anderson, 2008; Paul & Serpell, 1991; Melson, 1988; Van Houtte & Jarvis, 1995). Melson
(1988) found that children without younger siblings played more with their pets than those who did have younger siblings. In addition, children in single-parent families are more likely to form a close bond with a family pet than those in intact families (Van Houtte & Jarvis, 1995). Thus, research indicates the relevance of mother‟s work hours, sibling status, and parental marital status in predicting what makes certain populations more likely to bond with their pets, and thus be more affected by them. Hypothesis 5, 6, 7: Participants with reduced opportunities in the household for social support comparable to that provided by companion animals, namely those with (H5) mother‟s who work longer work hours, (H6) few or no siblings, and (H7) parents that are separated or divorced, will have stronger bonds with the dog they reported as most important in their lives. Terminology Participants responded to the Companion-Animal Bonding Scale (CABS) about the dog they considered most important in their lives thus far. Throughout the remainder of the paper, this dog will be referred to as a proper noun, written as, The Dog. References to other dogs, such as those in the household at the same time as The Dog, will not be capitalized. Method Participants
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Participants were a convenience sample of 83 St. Mary‟s College of Maryland students
(59 females, 23 males, mean age = 19.55) recruited through sona-systems and all-student emails from the psychology department, in the Spring 2012 semester. One male, 21 year-old, non-St. Mary‟s College student participated. Participants were randomly assigned into an experimental manipulation group (n = 44) or a control group (n = 38). Compensation was awarded in the form of partial credit for a college psychology course or 15 entries into the psychology department raffle for one of 10 chances to win $50. In order to participate students had to have owned a dog prior to the age of 16. All participants owned a pet at some time in order to minimize potential existing differences between families who do and do not choose to own pets. Procedure Pilot testing took place over the course of one week and was used to confirm the timing of the study and the clarity of test items. All data obtained during pilot testing was disposed of and was not included in subsequent data analysis. Students who took the pilot test did not participate in the study and were asked not to discuss the study with others. Subjects signed up to participate in one 45-minute research study entitled, “Personality and Perceptions of Pets.” Psychology students signed up on sona-systems and other majors from St. Mary‟s College of Maryland signed up through email. The cover story presented to participants stated that the purpose of the study was to determine how personality affects perceptions of past relationships with pets. Data collection occurred across several in-person sessions in a computer classroom in Goodpaster Hall either in the form of an online survey or written response. The experimenter met them at the door and provided them with one of two versions of the experimental packet (experimental manipulation, control) in an alternating sequence based on arrival time. If an
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uneven number of participants arrived, assignment into conditions favored additional distribution of experimental packets. The experimenter asked participants to take a seat at a computer and to follow the instructions written on the white board at the front of the room. These instructions stated: (1) write your identification number on the front of their experimental packet, (2) log into your computer, (3) open Internet Explorer, (4) type in the URL link written to go to Survey Monkey, and (5) not to begin until provided with further instructions from the experimenter. After all participants had arrived, the experimenter confirmed that everyone had written their ID number on the front of their experimental packet and that they were able to reach the URL on the board. The experimenter announced she would be seated in the front of the room and available if anyone had questions. Participants were told that they could begin the experiment by following the instructions on the online survey until they reached the page containing a large, red stop sign, at which time they should pause and direct their attention to the experimenter who would provide further instructions when all participants reached that point. Upon opening the survey online, participants gave informed consent (see Appendix A) and confirmed that they met the inclusionary criteria of owning a dog before the age of 16. Participants were informed that: (1) their answers will remain confidential, (2) participation is voluntary, (3) non-participation would not affect their grade, and (4) they have the right to withdraw from the study at any given time and if they choose to do so their data will be discarded. They subsequently completed a demographic questionnaire (see Appendix B), followed by a pet ownership questionnaire (see Appendix C) and the Companion Animal Bonding Scale (CABS) (Poresky, et al., 1987) (see Appendix D). Following completion of the CABS, the following message appeared below a large stop sign:
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Look up at the experimenter upon completion of this page on your computer survey. Please do not continue until all participants have reached this page and you are given further instructions. When the experimenter confirmed that all participants had reached this point in the survey, she stated, You will be given five minutes to type a response to the writing prompt within your experimental packet. I will indicate when there is one minute left so that you can know to wrap-up. You may now open your packet to page 2 and press next on your online survey. All participants saw the following instructions on their screen during the writing task, “Within
your experimental packet, you will find your writing prompt. You have five minutes to write on that prompt in the space provided below. When the experimenter says, "Times up," please turn off your computer monitors and wait for instructions. DO NOT EXIT OUT OF YOUR SURVEY.” Participants responded to one of two writing tasks, according to the experimental group that they were assigned to at arrival. For the experimental manipulation group, this task was intended to activate thoughts, emotions, and feeling associated with the companion animal bond. For the control group, a writing task unrelated to companion-animal bonding was expected to distract the from thoughts of the relationships with their pets that may have arisen as a result of the pet questionnaire or the companion animal bond with The Dog they responded about on the CABS. As a result of their different writing tasks, the experimental group and control group will be referred to as the bond reminded condition or bond distracted condition, respectively. The bond reminded condition‟s packet contained the following writing prompt: “Write about the
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY relationship you had with the DOG that you selected as most important when completing the online portion of this study. ” The bond distracted condition viewed and responded to the prompt: “What does the word personality really mean to you?” The writing procedure was predicted to produce variation in the subsequently administered behavioral and self-report empathy measures, based on activation of the companion animal bond, that is theorized to
contribute to empathic development in participants with high companion animal bonding scores. At the end of the five-minute writing manipulation, participants turned off their computer monitors and were given three minutes to read the instructions and review the glossary of mental state terms before taking a written version of the adult revised Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (see Appendix E) located within their experimental packets. After the three minutes was over, the experimenter said: It has been three minutes, but don‟t forget that you can refer back to the glossary when completing the next task. You are about to complete the MIE test, comprising the remainder of your experimental packet. I will not stop you after providing the following instructions before the end of the study, so listen carefully. You will see a total of 36 still pictures of human eyes, presented within a rectangular frame, each on its own page. On each corner of the frame, four mental state terms from the glossary of terms you just reviewed are written. You will choose which of these most accurately describes the thoughts or feelings portrayed by the eyes as quickly as possible by circling one of the four
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY choices on your corresponding answer sheet, found on page 12 of your experimental packet. Do not circle your answer on the pages containing the pictures. You may turn to your answer sheet now. Write the same ID number you wrote on the front of your packet and today‟s date in the spaces provided. Today’s date is ______. If you are sure that you have written the correct ID number, you may unattach your answer sheet from your experimental packet when completing the MIE test. After you finish the MIE test, place your answer sheet upside down on top, and raise your hand to have your packet and answer sheet collected. After I have collected your packet, turn your computer monitor back on, press next on your online survey, read both sets of instructions, and complete the final online scale. The experiment is over when you have reached the last page in the online survey. Before leaving, be sure to write your ID number on the yellow study sign-up sheet for credit or the green study sign-up sheet for raffle tickets located here [point to sheet on table], so that you can receive compensation for your time. Make sure that you have told the experimenter if you did not sign up for the study before today. I will have copies of my information at the front for anyone who would like to contact me with questions or comments about any aspect of the experiment, which will be completed by the end of this semester. Please do not discuss the experiment with other
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY students. Thank you very much for your time and helpful participation in my study. You may now begin the MIE test.
After finishing the MIE Test and having their packets collected, participants turned their monitors back on and completed the final scale, the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) (Spreng, McKinnon, Mar, & Levine, 2009). Supplementary instructions prepared by the experimenter were included to provide clarifying information on the task (see Appendix F). A debriefing statement appeared, informing participants as to the true purpose of the study (see Appendix G). Materials Companion-animal bonding scale (CABS). This is 8-item scale was developed by scientists in the field of child development and veterinary medicine at Kansas State University. It is designed to assess self-reported behaviors indicative of bonding in the relationship between a human and his/her most important pet. The CABS has adequate psychometric properties. Internal consistency is satisfactory with a Cronbach‟s alpha of .77 (Poresky, Hendrix, Mosier, & Samuelson, 1987). Content validity was assessed by comparison with the Pet Attitude Scale (Templer et al., 1981) and Companion Animal Semester Differential (Poresky et al., 1988). Adults who had high childhood bonding scores on the CABS showed the same pattern of results on contemporary scores on the Pet Attitude Scale (r = .41). High scores on the CABS were positively related to scores on the affective (first) factor of the Companion Animal Semantic Differential (r = .52). Scoring the CABS. Participants were instructed to respond to the questionnaire about their relationship with the dog they rated as most important in their lives. Response format for each of the eight items was a five-point Likert Scale with frequency of behaviors ranging from
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never (one) to always (five). An example item was, “How often did you feel that you had a close relationship with your companion animal?” Responses were coded in the following manner: “Never” = 1, “Rarely” = 2, “Often” = 3, “Generally” = 4, “Always” = 5. A total score was calculated by obtaining the sum of all 8 responses. Possible total scores ranged from 8 (minimum) to 40 (maximum), higher scores represented greater involvement with the companion animal. Adults revised reading the mind in the eyes test (MIE). This test was developed by researchers Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Hill, Raste, & Plumb (2001). It is a behavioral measure of empathy in which correct responses are representative of the ability to accurately understand and interpret complex interpersonal stimuli and pair the static nonverbal cues with mental-state terms. Respondents are provided with a list of terms used in the task and the opportunity to read an explanation and example for each before beginning (i.e. Affection: showing fondness towards someone (e.g. Most mothers are affectionate to their babies by giving them lots of kisses and cuddles). A total of 36 still pictures of only actors‟ eye regions are presented within a rectangular frame, centered on the page. On each corner of the frame, four mental state terms are written. Participants must respond as to the mental state being portrayed by the eyes by circling one of the four choices on their corresponding answer sheet. They are also able to refer back to the list of terms and definitions during testing. Scoring the MIE. Scores on the MIE were calculated by obtaining a sum of correct responses on the 36 items. No points were awarded for incorrect responses. Correct responses were worth one point each. Thus, scores could range from 0 to 36. Higher scores represented higher empathy.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Toronto empathy questionnaire (TEQ). This measure was developed by researchers Spreng, McKinnon, Mar, & Levine (2009). This 16-item scale was developed in order to find
consensus, or core opinion, among all published self-report measures related to the construct of empathy. Using exploratory factor analysis, researchers forced 142 items to load onto a single factor, thereby compiling a collection of highly related items from across many self-report measures of empathic responding. Items were reworded to assess frequencies of behaviors, rather than more subjective statements of participants‟ general tendencies. Spreng et al. (2009) found the scale to have adequate psychometric properties. The scale was found to possess high internal consistency and convergent validity with existing self-report scales, as well as behavioral measures of interpersonal skills, and high test-retest reliability. The alpha coefficient for the 16 items was .85. Scoring the TEQ. Response format for each of the 16 items was a five point Likert scale with frequency of behaviors ranging from never (zero) to always (four). Responses were coded in the following manner: “Never” = 0, “Rarely” = 1, “Sometimes” = 2, “Often” = 3, “Always” = 4. A total score was calculated by (1) reversing the signs of the responses on the eight negatively scored items (items 2, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 15), and then, (2) obtaining the sum of all 16 responses. Scores could range from 0 to 64. Higher scores represented a higher empathy level. Spreng et al. (2009) found scores on the TEQ correlated with those on the MIE Test (r = .35, p < .01). This correlation, “falls within the top third of all effect sizes observed in psychology for measures that do not share method variance” (Spreng et al., 2009). This correlation supports the use of the TEQ as a self-report measure of empathy, in combination with the MIE Test as a behavioral measure, to fully encompass the overlapping cognitive and affective components of empathy with both high internal and ecological validity.
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Results Preliminary Analyses Frequency distributions. Shapiro-Wilk‟s test of normality confirmed normal distribution in all variables of interest, except across scores on the Companion-Animal Bonding Scale (CABS) for males in the bond reminded condition (see Table 1). Scores on the CABS were positively skewed for males in the bond reminded group. Levene‟s test of equality of error variances revealed no significant differences in variance across all variables of interest that were subsequently included in statistical analyses. Missing data. Data from six participants were excluded from analyses because all scores on at least one of the primary measures were missing. Four participants were missing two or fewer scores, and their missing values replaced. On the CABS, two participants were missing data from items related to proximity of sleeping arrangements with The Dog. As there were two similarly worded items on the CABS pertaining to sleep, the items were filled in using the participant‟s response to the other item. Two participants were missing a response for an item related to care of The Dog and the same procedure as for items related to proximity was used. On the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ), three participants were missing a single response, which was completed either using their average response on positively or negatively worded items, depending on the item left unanswered. The Revised Adult Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (MIE) data contained no missing values. Descriptive statistics. Means, standard deviations, and confidence intervals on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ are presented by gender, experimental condition, and for each gender by experimental condition in Tables 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Correlations between scores on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ for all participants are presented in Table 5. Correlations between scores
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ for gender, experimental condition, and for each gender by experimental condition are shown in Tables 6, 7, and 8, respectively.
Checks of experimental design assumptions. The two empathy measures administered used were expected to positively correlate. In order to verify this, Pearson‟s correlation coefficient was calculated between the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) and Adult Revised Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (MIE) empathy tests, a self-report ad behavioral measure of empathy, respectively. Pearson‟s correlation coefficient indicated that there was not a significant linear relationship between mean MIE scores and mean TEQ scores, r(81) = .03, p = .788. Therefore, due to the different nature in how each test measured empathy, all additional relevant analyses were conducted for both the MIE and TEQ. As participants were randomly assigned into either the bond distracted (i.e. control) condition or bond reminded (i.e. experimental manipulation) condition, scores on the companion-animal bonding scale were not expected to significantly differ across groups. A between-subjects t-test was conducted for pre-existing differences between experimental groups on the CABS that could influence the ability to attribute differences in scores on the empathy measures to the effect of the manipulation task. The bond distracted condition showed a trend approaching significance towards higher mean CABS scores compared to the bond reminded condition t (81) = 1.854, p = .067. Means and standard deviations on the CABS by experimental condition are presented in Table 3. Tests of Hypotheses Hypothesis 1: A stronger bond with The Dog, as measured by the CABS, will lead to higher empathy scores on both the MIE and TEQ in young adults. 1A: A positive correlation is predicted between scores on the CABS and MIE
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY 1B: A positive correlation is predicted between scores on the CABS and TEQ
Between-subject correlations, means, and standard deviations for scores on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ as a function of gender are presented in Table 6. In hopes of revealing a relationship between companion-animal bonding (CABS) and each empathy measure (MIE and TEQ), scores on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ were correlated. On the MIE, Pearson‟s correlation coefficient indicated that there was not a significant linear relationship between all participants‟ CABS scores and MIE scores, r(81) = .060, p = .590. When females and males were considered separately, Pearson‟s coefficient indicated that there was not a significant linear relationship between females‟ scores on the CABS and MIE, r(57) = .041, p = .760, nor between males‟ scores on the CABS and MIE, r(21) = .173, p = .431. Thus, the relationship between bonding and empathy in hypothesis 1A was not supported for all participants, females, or males when empathy was measured by the MIE. Scores on the CABS and on the TEQ were then correlated to examine hypothesis 1B. Pearson‟s correlation coefficient indicated that across all participants there was not a significant linear relationship between CABS scores and TEQ scores, r(81) = -.041, p = .711. Females and males scores on the CABS and TEQ were then considered separately. For females, the Pearson‟s correlation coefficient revealed a trend approaching significance in the negative, or opposite direction as predicted, between scores on the CABS and the TEQ, revealing a tendency for females with weaker bonds with The Dog to have higher empathy, r (57) = -.237, p = .070. Pearson‟s correlation coefficient revealed a significant positive correlation between males‟ CABS scores and TEQ scores, revealing a tendency for males with stronger bonds with The Dog to have higher empathy, r (21) = .470, p = .024. The positive relationship between bonding and
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY empathy in hypothesis 1B was not supported for females, but was supported for males, when empathy was measured by the TEQ. A Fisher‟s r-to-z transformation was conducted to compare Pearson‟s correlation coefficients for females (r = -.237) and males (r = .470) between mean CABS scores and mean TEQ scores. The absolute value difference of +.7 found between these two correlations was significant, z = 2.89, p = .004. Females and males differed in how the strength of bonding with
The Dog affected empathy, as measured by the TEQ. Females with stronger companion-animal bonds showed a tendency towards lower empathy, whereas males with stronger companionanimal bonds reported higher empathy.
Hypothesis 2: Females will have stronger companion-animal bonding and higher empathy than males. 2A. Females will have significantly higher CABS scores than males 2B. Females will have significantly higher MIE score than males 2C. Females will have significantly higher TEQ score than males
Means, standard deviations, and confidence intervals on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ by gender can be seen in Table 2. To determine if females and males differed in the strength of their companion-animal bond, a between-subjects t-test was conducted between gender and CABS scores. Females‟ scores did not significantly differ from males‟ scores on the CABS, t (80) = .530, p = .597. In order to test the prediction that females would have higher empathy than males, a between-subjects t-tests were conducted for gender on the MIE and TEQ. Females and males did not significantly differ in scores on the MIE, t (80) = -1.031, p = .306, or on the TEQ, t (80) = -.800, p = .426. Results were not in support for hypothesis 2.
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Hypothesis 3: As a result of the experimental manipulation, participants in the bond reminded condition will have equal or higher empathy scores than participants in the bond distracted condition. Females in the bond distracted condition will be more susceptible to increase their empathic responses as a result of the empathy-activating writing manipulation than males. 3A. The bond reminded condition will have equal or higher empathy scores on the MIE than bond distracted condition 3B. The bond reminded condition will have equal or higher empathy scores on the TEQ than bond distracted condition 3C: Females in the bond reminded condition will have higher empathy scores on the MIE than males in the bond reminded condition 3D: Females in the bond reminded condition will have higher empathy scores on the TEQ than males in the bond reminded condition Means, standard deviations, and confidence intervals on the MIE and TEQ by experimental condition are presented in Table 3. Mean scores, standard deviations, and confidence intervals on the MIE and TEQ as a function of gender by experimental condition are presented in Table 4. Mean scores on the MIE and TEQ as a function of gender and experimental condition are displayed in Figures 1 and 2, respectively. A Gender (2) x Experimental Condition (2) ANOVA was conducted for MIE scores. No significant main effects of gender were revealed, F (1, 78) = .915, p = .342, partial ε2 = .012, observed power = .157. No significant main effects were revealed for experimental condition, F (1, 78) = .174, p = .678, partial ε2 = .002, observed power = .070. Nor was there a significant interaction between gender and experimental condition, F (1, 78) = 1.495, p = .225, partial ε2 = .019, observed power = .227. Thus, hypotheses 3A and 3C were not supported.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY
A Gender (2) x Experimental Condition (2) ANOVA was conducted for TEQ scores. No significant main effects of gender were revealed, F (1, 78) = .598, p = .442; partial ε2 = .008, observed power = .119. No significant main effects were revealed for experimental condition, F (1, 78) = .224, p = .637; partial ε2 = .003, observed power = .075. Nor was there a significant interaction between gender and experimental condition, F (1, 78) = .015, p = .904; partial ε2 = .019, observed power = 0. Results were not in support of hypothesis 3, as no main effects of experimental condition or interactions between gender and condition were found on either the MIE or TEQ.
Hypothesis 4: The presence of more than one dog in the household at the same time will be associated with weaker companion-animal bonding and lower empathy scores compared to the presence of only The Dog. 4A. Owning other dogs at the same time as The Dog will lead to weaker bonds with The Dog on the CABS 4B. Participants owning other dogs will have lower empathy on the MIE than those owning no other dogs at the same time as The Dog 4C. Participants owning other dogs will have lower empathy on the TEQ than those owning no other dogs at the same time as The Dog
Mean CABS scores for participants owning no other dogs and those owning one or more other dogs at the same time as The Dog are presented in Figure 3. Participants responded as to the number of other dogs present in the household at the same time they owned The Dog. The majority of participants either did not own another dog (50.6%) or owned only one other dog
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY (36.1%) at the same time as The Dog. Participants‟ responses were therefore recoded to
investigate the effects of the presence of multiple dogs on bonding strength and empathy. These two groups within the presence of other dogs variable, coded as 0 and 1, were: (1) the no other dogs owned group, comprising participants who only owned The Dog (n = 42) and (2) the other dogs owned group, comprising participants who owned one or more dogs at the same time as The Dog (n = 41). Spearman‟s correlation coefficients for the relationship between the presence of other dogs at the same time as The Dog and scores on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ are presented in Table 9. For all participants, Spearman‟s correlation coefficient revealed a significant negative relationship between the presence of other dogs and the strength of the companion-animal bond with The Dog, rho = -.266, p = .015. In support of hypothesis 4A, participants in the other dogs owned group showed weaker companion animal bonding. A between-subjects t-test on presence of other dogs for empathy scores on the MIE and TEQ across all participants found no support for hypothesis 4B or 4C, as there was no significant differences for those in the no other dogs owned and other dogs owned groups on empathy scores on the MIE, t(81) = -.670, p = .505, or on the TEQ, t(81) = .207, p = .836. Spearman‟s correlation coefficients for the relationship between the presence of other dogs at the same time as The Dog and scores on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ as a function of gender are presented in Table 10. As a significant difference was previously found for bonding effects on empathy between females and males, gender was included in Spearman‟s correlational analyses for presence of other dogs and scores on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ. When females and males were considered separately, hypothesis 4A and 4C were each only supported in one gender and not the other. Females in the other dogs owned group showed a highly significant negative
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY correlation with CABS scores, in support for hypothesis 4A. Females who owned one or more other dogs at the time of The Dog reported significantly weaker companion-animal bonding
scores, rho = -.335, p = .010. Males did not show a relationship between presence of other dogs and the strength of companion animal bonding with The Dog, rho = -.053, p = .809. When empathy was measured by the TEQ, Spearman‟s correlation coefficient revealed that males in the other dogs owned group showed significantly lower TEQ, in support for hypothesis 4C. Males who owned one or more other dogs at the time of The Dog reported lower empathy scores than those with no other dogs owned, rho = -.484, p = .019. In contrast, females did not show a significant relationship between presence of other dogs and empathy measured by the TEQ, rho = .143, p = .281. No support was found for hypothesis 4B, as no significant correlations were revealed for the presence of other dogs and MIE scores for all participants, females, or males, p > .05. Means on the CABS as a function of presence of other dogs and gender are displayed in Figure 3. The presence of other dogs in the household at the same time as The Dog was empirically explored to test the hypothesis that ownership of other dogs will lead to weaker bonds with The Dog on the CABS (4A) and lower empathy on the TEQ (4C). A Gender (2) x Ownership of Other Dogs (2) ANOVA was first conducted for CABS scores. No significant main effects of gender on CABS scores were found, F (1, 78) = .193, p = .662. partial ε2 = .002, observed power = .072. A trend approaching significance in support for hypothesis 4A was revealed, showing a tendency for participants with no other dogs to have stronger bonding with The Dog than those with other dogs owned, F(1, 78) = 3.398, p = .069, partial ε2 = .042, observed power = .445. No significant interaction between gender and the presence of other dogs was found, F(1, 78) = 1.937, p = .168, partial ε2 = .024, observed power = .280.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Means on the TEQ as a function of presence of other dogs and gender are displayed in Figure 4. A Gender (2) x Ownership of Other Dogs (2) ANOVA was then conducted for TEQ
scores. No significant main effects on TEQ scores were found for gender, F(1, 78) = 1.200, p = .277; partial ε2 = .015, observed power = .191, or presence of other dogs, F(1, 78) = 2.473, p = .120; partial ε2 = .031, observed power = .342. However, a significant interaction between gender and presence of other dogs was revealed, F(1, 78) = 9.337, p = .003. partial ε2 = .107, observed power = .855. Simple main effects using Least Significant Difference for multiple comparisons showed that females and males in the other dogs owned group significantly differed on mean scores on the TEQ, F(1, 78) = 7.976, p = .006, but not in the no other dogs owned group, F(1, 78) = 2.089, p = .152. For participants with other dogs owned, females reported significantly higher empathy than males (Mean difference = 6.713). Results were in support for hypothesis 4C for males, as owning one or more dogs was associated with lower empathy scores compared to females.
Hypothesis 5: Participants with mothers who work more hours will have stronger companion animal bonding with The Dog, or higher CABS scores, than those whose mothers work fewer hours during the times they owned The Dog.
Pearson‟s correlation coefficient revealed that, among all participants, there was not a significant linear correlation between mother‟s work hours and CABS scores, r = .034, p = .760. When males and females were considered separately, Pearson‟s correlation coefficient did not reveal a significant relationship between the strength of males‟ bond with The Dog and the number of hours their mother worked during the time
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY they owned The Dog, r = -.022, p = .920, nor was a relationship found for females r = .054, p = .685. Results were not in support of hypothesis 5, as mother‟s work hours did not appear to be related to the strength of the companion-animal bond.
Hypothesis 6: Participants with two or fewer siblings will have stronger companion animal bonding with The Dog, or higher CABS scores, than those with three or more siblings the majority of the time they owned The Dog.
Participants responded on the number of siblings at the time they owned The Dog. Descriptive statistics on the number of siblings reported across all participants (M = 2.627, Mdn = 2, SD = 1.067) were used in the decision to code participants into two groups, recoded as 1 and 2: (1) those with two or fewer siblings, and (2) those with three or more siblings. A between-subjects Gender (2) x Sibling Number (2) ANOVA was conducted for mean CABS scores. Results of the ANOVA did not reveal a main effect of sibling number, as participants with two or fewer siblings (M = 19.222, SD = 4.963, n = 45) did not differ in the strength of their bonding to their pet dog compared to participants with three or more siblings (M = 19.676, SD = 5.447, n = 37), F (1, 78) = .169, p = .682, observed power = .069. A main effect of gender was not observed, F (1, 78) = .294, p = .589, observed power = .083, nor was there an interaction between gender and sibling number, F (1, 78) = .014, p = .907, observed power = .052. Results were not in support of hypothesis 6, as the number of siblings owned at the same time as The Dog did not appear to have effects on the strength of the companion-animal bond.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Hypothesis 7: Participants with parents who are separated and/or divorced will have stronger companion animal bonding with The Dog, or higher CABS scores, than those with parents who were married the majority of the time they owned The Dog.
Participants were divided into two groups based on frequency distributions, recoded as 1 and 2. Those with parents who were married (84.3%) were compared to those with parents separated (6%) or divorced (9.6%). A Mann-Whitney U test was conducted to evaluate the hypothesis that participants with parents who were separated or divorced when they owned The Dog would score higher, on average, than participants with parents who were married on the CABS. The results were not significant, and thus not in support of hypothesis 7, as mean ranks on the CABS did not significantly differ as a function of parents‟ marital status, z = -.935, p = .350. Participants with parents who were separated or divorced when they owned The Dog had an average rank of 36.270, and those with parents who were married had an average rank of 43.060. Discussion Review of Theory Prompting Current Research This study investigated the relationship between the strength of a companion-animal bond with a dog owned prior to the age of 16 and empathy levels in young adulthood. The companion-animal bond is the compilation of the cognitive, affective, and behavioral components of attachment that form readily between people and pets, and, in particular, between children growing up in households with pets (Poresky, 1996). The consistent and frequent interactions between humans and dogs are bound to have effects, and these effects may be greater for older children and adolescents in the midst of personality development. Empathy has
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY been shown to have constitutional components present from birth, but also the ability to be influenced by environmental components (Zahn-Waxler, Robinson, & Emde, 1992). Although
quite variable in youth, evidence from longitudinal research suggests that empathy has stabilized at the age of approximately 16 years old (Eisenberg et al., 2002). Dogs are reported to offer the highest degree of social support compared to other types of companion-animals, and are the most frequently owned companion-animals (Bonas et al., 2001). While Daly and Morton (2003) found no significant correlation between bonding and empathy among pet-owners, dog owners, or cat owners, when dog owners were considered separately from the rest of the sample and overall empathy computed, they were found to have significantly higher empathy than cat owners. Thus, dogs, in comparison to other types of companionanimals, appear to have the most influential effects for the greatest frequency of people. As a result, the relationship between companion-animal bonding and empathy was explored in terms of the strength of the bond with The Dog reported most important in each participant‟s life. Dogs are reported to offer feelings of security and comfort that allow for the development of attachment, which precedes the capacity for empathy (Anderson, 2008; Gendler, 1997). Pets owned prior to the age of 16 may play an important role in development of the self, and how future stimuli associated with the bond are perceived and interpreted. Pets are dependent upon their owners‟ understanding of their non-verbal requests for care. Humans who feel attached to their pet are more likely to show caretaking behaviors (Bryant, 1990), and caretaking of a pet has been found to correlate with empathy in elementary-school-age children through fifth grade (Melson et el., 1991). In order to effectively show caretaking behaviors, attached owners must learn to interpret the pets‟ non-verbal requests, and in doing so, the individual must practice empathic responding. Effects of early development and interpretation of
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY
one‟s environment in forming one‟s personality are related to overall empathy levels throughout one‟s life (Paul, 2000; Zahn-Waxler, Robinson, & Emde, 1992). Thus, the strength of the most important companion-animal bond with The Dog owned before empathy plateaus and stabilizes was hypothesized to have lasting effects on empathy levels into young adulthood (H1). Supported Hypotheses Gender Differences were Found in the Relationship between Bonding and Empathy The current study posited that the more important The Dog is conceptualized in the individual‟s life, the stronger the individual‟s companion-animal bond with The Dog, the more the bond influenced the individual‟s development, and, ultimately, the more salient its effects on empathy (H1). Scores on the CABS were not found correlate with scores on the MIE or TEQ across all participants. However, when females and males were separated and compared, an inverse relationship between bonding and empathy was revealed. A positive relationship between CABS scores and empathy on the TEQ was found for males. Interestingly, females scores on the CABS and TEQ showed a trend in the opposite direction of males, a novel finding to this researcher's knowledge. In contrast to the inverse relationship between bonding and empathy for males and females observed in this study were results obtained by Taylor and Signal (2005) indicating that for women, but not men, higher pro-welfare attitudes towards animals positively correlated with their empathy scores on the Empathic Concern subscale of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (developed by Davis, 1980). They found females to have more positive attitudes towards animals, higher empathy, and a stronger relationship between attitudes towards animals and empathy compared to males, while none of these relationships were found in the current study. This difference in findings is particularly interesting because Spreng et al. (2009) found that
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY participants‟ total scores on the TEQ positively correlated with the Interpersonal Reactivity Index subscale Empathic Concern and four items within the TEQ were reworded Empathic Concern subscale items. The novelty of this finding and discrepancy with existing research indicates the need for further research on the factors that influence the relationship between bonding and empathy and why genders showed this difference in effects.
Hypothesis 4. The presence of other dogs in the household at the same time as The Dog was examined to test the hypothesis that more dogs in the household simultaneous with The Dog will lead to weaker bonding with The Dog and lower empathy. Hypothesis 4 was supported in terms of bonding strength when all participants and females with no other dogs owned showed stronger bonding with The Dog than those with one or more other dogs owned. However, females‟ empathy appeared to be more influenced by the presence of one or more dogs in the household than by the strength of the companion-animal bond. As females showed a negative correlation between bonding and empathy, as well as weaker bonding in the other dogs owned group, results are congruent with the apparent negative relationship for females between companion animal bonding and empathy. On the other hand, males‟ empathy was moreso affected by the strength of the bond, and negatively affected by the presence of one or more other dogs. Owning one or more dogs was associated with weaker bonding with The Dog for males compared to females. Thus, a difference in effects as a function of gender is evident in this young adult population. It is possible that the positive relationship documented between bonding and empathy may not show salience from childhood to young adulthood, but may instead become stronger for males, or diminish with time for females. Females may be socialized to be more emotionally expressive and have greater opportunities for companionship and connectedness in routine social
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY interactions compared to males. As males mature, they may be socialized to portray the
stereotypical masculine personality, that sets restraints on openness, intimacy, and emotionality within interpersonal relationships. Dogs are often associated as being a more masculine pet type than many others. Therefore, males may see the companion animal bond with the dog as a uniquely important and influential social relationship that is able to comprise components of affective, behavioral, and cognitive attachment, without any fear of judgment or ridicule. In this way, the already high degree non-evaluative support provided by dogs may become even more valued by males. As with many past memories, associated feelings with the bond may be stronger when considered retrospectively. As a result, the impact of the companion animal bond, as well as its relationship with empathy, appeared stronger for males than females. Overview of Hypotheses Not Supported (H2, H3, H5, H6 H7) H2. The hypothesis that females would have stronger companion-animal bonding and higher empathy than males (H2) was not supported. Females did not show higher scores on the CABS, MIE, or TEQ than males. This findings contradicted literature on gender effects on the relationship between companion-animal bonding and empathy suggesting that females are more likely to form strong bonds with their pets (Ascione, 1992; Paul, 2000; Taylor & Signal, 2005; Vidovic et al., 1999), as well as to have higher empathy compared to males (Bryant, 1982; Garaigordobil, 2009; Paul, 2000; Vidovic et al., 1999; Zahn-Waxler et al., 1992). As this study only queried participant on their companion animal bond on the dog considered most important to them, it is possible that past studies report that females bond more readily with other types of pets, or with pets in general, than males. The specificity of the population in study and measures on bonding limited findings from generalizing to human-pet interactions as a whole, and instead focus on human-dog interactions and effects.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY
H3. Females in the bond reminded condition (i.e. experimental manipulation group) were hypothesized to subconsciously respond more empathically after writing about the bond with The Dog, than those in the bond distracted condition (i.e. control group), who wrote about what personality meant to them. As a result, it was predicted that they would show lower empathy on the subsequently administered self-report and behavioral empathy measures, the adult revised Reading the Eyes in the Mind Test (MIE) and the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) (H3). An interaction between gender and experimental condition was not revealed, as females did not appear to be more readily influenced to show increases in empathy as a result of the empathy-activating intervention task than males. In past studies, adolescent females have been found to show larger increases in empathy compared to adolescent males in an intervention program designed to increase empathy (Garaigordobil, 2004). As this intervention program was held in one-a-week, two-hour increments over the course of only one academic year, the effects of having a companion-animal who is consistently integrated into one‟s lifestyle and routine at an earlier developmental stage was expected to hold even stronger potential for increasing empathy for females. The lack of support for gender differences across experimental conditions may suggest that the empathy-enhancing intervention utilized in this study was not effective at subconsciously activating empathy. However, due to the initial difference across experimental conditions in CABS scores, the reason for the lack of difference in empathy scores is ambiguous. Results would be improved if equality between experimental groups was ensured prior to the experimental manipulation on CABS scores, or the use of a pre-test/post-test design that quantifies empathy prior to and following implementation of an experimental manipulation. Factors Related to Bonding in Childhood Were Not Supported in Adulthood
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Past literature on factors related to the effects of the companion-animal bond is largely
focused on children. In an attempt to extend past findings and explore how lasting the impact of pets is, factors found to be related to bonding in children were explored in a young adult participant sample. H5. Hypothesis 5 was not supported, as a relationship was not revealed between mother‟s work hours and CABS, for all participants or as a function of gender. Children with mothers employed more hours have been found in past research to show close bonding with their pets than children with stay-at-home mothers (Bryant, 1986; Melson, 1988; Melson et al., 1991). Consequently, it appears that perhaps the influence of parent‟s marital status and work hours on pet bonding may be more evident in children responding about their immediate environments. H6. Past research on children suggests that caretaking behavior for pets is greater for only children or those with few siblings, than those with siblings who have the opportunity to express caretaking behaviors for one another in the family. Children with few or no siblings were found to be especially likely to form stronger bonds with their pets (Anderson, 2008; Paul & Serpell, 1991; Melson, 1988; Van Houtte & Jarvis, 1995). However, when mean empathy scores on the MIE and TEQ were compared, no significant differences were found as a function of sibling number (two or fewer, three or more) or gender, nor was there a significant interaction. While this relationship may exist in childhood, it likely does not remain constant into young adulthood. A possible contributing factor to this result is that by college-age, many participants no longer live with their siblings and have other opportunities through social interactions with peers to receive social support and demonstrate care for others. H7. Participants from single-parent families were hypothesized to form closer bonds with a family pet than those in intact families (H7), as Van Houtte & Jarvis (1995) found a
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY relationship for children with separated or divorces parents and stronger companion-animal
bonding. Hypothesis 7 was not supported when young adult participants with parents who were separated/divorced or intact during ownership of The Dog were compared on CABS scores, as no differences were found across all participants or as a function of gender. It is possible that participants‟ parents became separated or divorced during ownership of The Dog, but did not fall into this marital status the majority of the time The Dog was owned, as they responded about in the relevant test item. Alternatively, the dog was only owned briefly, but the parents were separated or divorced the majority of that brief time. Thus, the influence of parents‟ marital status is construed by temporal variance. Potential Limitations Several problems arose with the experimental design that may have led to subsequent non-significant effects of the experimental manipulation and ambiguity in results. Initially, the research design for this study was going to take place in two components, the first measuring companion-animal bonding online, and the next measuring empathy across experimental conditions in-person. The plan was to administer the CABS online to all participants prior to the in-person component of testing and to use these scores to split participants into CABS quartiles. For assignment into experimental conditions, an equal number of participants from each of the quartiles would have been split into one of two experimental conditions, creating conditions that were comparable across distributions of companion-animal bonding scores. However, this initial experimental design was not employed due to sample size concerns, as the attrition rate may have been too high between the online and in-person sessions. Instead, the study was condensed into a single-session testing period and participants randomly distributed into experimental conditions based on arrival time. When participants were compared
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY on mean CABS scores across experimental conditions, the bond distracted condition showed a trend approaching significance towards higher mean CABS scores than the bond reminded condition. This initial difference across groups was a problem for the experimental design
because the efficacy of the empathy-activating writing manipulation relied on the strength of the companion-animal bond. An activation of more empathic responding for participants in the bond reminded condition may have occurred, but because the group as a whole showed weaker bonding with The Dog to begin with, the empathy-activating effects, may have been stronger for the bond reminded condition who showed stronger bonding with The Dog. Additionally, participants may have been differentially affected by the experimental manipulation depending on if The Dog was still alive or not. For participants in the bond reminded condition who no longer owned The Dog, it is possible that negative emotions associated with remembering the loss of their most important pet dog actually distracted from any potential empathy-activating thoughts during the writing task about the bond. In this study, participants retrospectively responded and may therefore hold current views about their relationship with The Dog that differ from those held when they lived in, and were likely more strongly influenced by, the family household. In addition, among childhood populations, it is important to consider the role of the parent in choosing what type of pet the child matures around in terms of the influence of temperamental dispositions in parents‟ pet choice, and thus temperamental dispositions present in the child towards bonding with pet dogs and empathy. An interaction between the strength of companion-animal bonding, pet type, and gender may be present in the contrasting results on the relationship between bonding with dogs and
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY empathy as reported by gender. Perhaps dogs more readily influence males than females, who may be more influenced by another type of pet. While increasing the specificity of the experimental design allowed direct investigation of the influence of dogs, it limited access to
conclusions that can be made about other pet types. Future research should address the influence of specific types of pets on females and males separately to explore differences in the relationship between bonding and empathy. To control for confounding variables, inclusionary criteria should control for sample differences in pet ownership status (yes, no) and pet types owned. In contrast to what has been reported in past research using the TEQ and MIE (Spreng et al., 2009), when the two measures intended to measure empathy were correlated, they did not show a significant linear relationship. This was surprising as the TEQ was created and its construct validity checked with the MIE. Hoffman (2000) suggests that self-focused role playing, like that required in self-report measures, is less conscious and more emotional than the more cognitively demanding task of others-focused role taking, like that required in behavioral measures of empathy. While it is possible that the two empathy tests are measuring different components of empathy, the non-significant correlation and disagreement across results brings into question their construct validity. Interestingly, all results revealed were significant only for the TEQ, and not for the MIE. The behavioral measure of empathy (MIE) indexed the ability to accurately pair static facial cues with mental state terms and, in retrospect, seemed to have relatively low ecological validity. Social contact is a necessary condition for empathy (Nezlek, 2001) and is more dynamic than the mere presence of eyes. Social contact is ripe with contextual cues to from the environment, patterns of behavior, and, within human-human interactions, the ability for speech.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Thus, matching one of four mental state terms to a picture of eyes may not be representative of real-life empathic responding. Future revisions to the MIE may consider a brief video clip that
ends with the task of matching actors‟ eyes as they are frozen in the midst of the conversation or scenario to his/her mental state. It is possible that the MIE was measuring a slightly different variable than the TEQ, as it was scored for accuracy, rather for mean empathy level. While someone may have a high motivation towards empathic responding, they may have a disposition towards low empathic accuracy. Eisenberg et al. (1999) found that the negative impact of low empathic accuracy on internalizing problems (e.g. depression, unhappiness) was mitigated for children with high quality peer relations. Also, that having high empathic accuracy mitigated the negative impact of poor peer relations on personal adjustment. Therefore, the MIE could be better utilized in a replication of the current study that included measures of social skills and quality of socialization with others. A strong bond with one‟s pet may lead to enhancements in sociability and/or empathy, which have each been shown to have positive effects on social and personal adjustment (Eisenberg et al., 1999). Future Research Several studies suggest a potential relationship between having younger or older siblings on attachment levels with a pet. For only and youngest children, pets may play a role in socioemotional development that would otherwise be filled through interaction with siblings. Dunn (1984) found that caretaking and the exercise of dominance and authority are both aspects of older children‟s relationships with their younger siblings (as cited in Paul & Serpell, 1991). Children without younger siblings may naturally take on a caretaking role as the provider to a
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY dependent pet. Future studies could test to see if having no siblings or being the youngest child leads to the formation of stronger companion-animal bonds. One important alteration to the current study would be the addition of test measures for
exploring the mediating role of dogs in enhancing empathy by means of providing social support and increasing sociability. While Daly and Morton (2003) failed to find a relationship between companion-animal bonding and empathy for pet owners compared to people not owning pets, Daly & Morton (2009) found that adults who owned dogs only in childhood developed characteristics of lower personal distress and higher social skills than those with other who owned cats or other types of pets. Pets have been shown to offer a secure and highly valued non-evaluative form of social support to humans that provides heightened self-concept, which in turn leads to increased socialization with others, enhanced interpersonal skills and mental health (Bryant, 1990; Eisenberg et al., 1999; Levinson, 1978; Van Houtte & Jarvis, 1995). People with pets are rated as more socially accessible and popular than those without pets (Anderson, 2008; Endenburg & Baarda, 1995). The formation of a secure attachment relationship and positive social support systems are prerequisites of empathic development in childhood (Anderson, 2008; Nezlek, 2001). As this study focused more on the presence of a secure attachment relationship on empathy, future studies could explore the effects of the positive social support systems offered by pets on empathy. A more positive social orientation and prosocial behaviors towards others have been found to correlate with empathic ability (Garaigordobil, 2009; Vidovic, et al., 2001). In addition, increased social interactions have been associated with higher empathy, as well as with large increases in empathy over time, even for infants from 14- to 20-months of age (Robinson et al.,
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY
1994). Future research on the effects of companion-animals on empathy should include measures of social skills and social orientation, for stronger companion-animal bonds could lead to enhanced sociability and more positive social orientation, which may mediate the effects on empathic development that remain salient over time. In a research design including the mediating role of social orientation, the experimental manipulation could be altered to activate empathic responding in response to social stimuli and the companion-animal bond (e.g. questions about pictures of people interacting with or without a dog), rather than in response to a general writing task to retrospectively think and write about a single companion-animal bond with one pet. By changing the task to one that is familiar to nonpet-owning and pet-owning populations, and varying the presence or absence of a pet in the social stimuli, effects of human-animal interactions can be explored for larger populations. The results found would continue to improve comprehension of the characteristics of populations that benefit most from companion-animal bonding so that we can begin to figure out why these beneficial effects occur. In addition, this manipulation appears to show superior ecological validity compared to the current study‟s manipulation, as it taps into how one interprets and reacts to social stimuli. Another adjustment to the experimental manipulation would be to require a reflection on one‟s responses to the given social stimuli, as the role of self-concept and metacognition on personal and social factors are reported to be particularly important in the effectiveness of empathy enhancing intervention programs (Garaigordobil, 2004).
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LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Podberscek, A.L., & Gosling, S.D. (2001). Personality research on pets and their owners: Conceptual issues and review. In A. L. Podberscek, E. S. Paul & J. A. Serpell (Eds.), Companion-animals and us: Exploring the relationships between people and pets (pp. 143-167). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Poresky, R. H., & Hendrix, C. (1990). Differential effects of pet presence and pet-bonding on young children. Psychological Reports, 67, 51-54.
Poresky. (1996). Companion-animals and other factors affecting young children's development. Anthrozoos, 9, 159-168. Poresky, Hendrix, Mosier, & Samuelson. (1987). The companion-animal bonding scale: Internal reliability and construct validity. Psychological Reports, 60, 743-746. Poresky, Hendrix, Mosier, & Samuelson. (1988). Young children's companion-animal bonding and adults' pet attitudes: A retrospective study. Psychological Reports, 62, 419-425. Poresky, R.H. (1989). Analyzing human-animal relationship measures. Anthrozoos, 2, 236-244. Poresky, R.H., & Hendrix, C. (1990). Differential effects of pet presence and pet-bonding on young children. Psychological Reports, 67, 51-54. Robinson, J. L., Zahn-Waxler, C., & Emde, R. N. (1994). Patterns of development in early empathic behavior: Environmental and child constitutional influences. Social Development, 3, 125-145. Siegel, J.M. (1990). Stressful life events and use of physician services among the elderly: The moderating role of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 1081-1086. Spreng, N.R., McKinnon, M.C., Mar, R.A., & Levine, B. (2009). The toronto empathy questionnaire: Scale development and intitial validation of a factor-analytic solution to
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Taylor, N., & Signal, T.D. (2005). Empathy and attitudes to animals. Anthrozoos, 18(1), 18-27. U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Demographic analysis and population estimates, from http://2010.census.gov/2010census/ Van Houtte, B.A., & Jarvis, P.A. (1995). The role of pets in preadolescent psychosocial development. Journal of Applied Development Psychology, 16, 463-479. Vidovic, V.V., Arambasic, L., Kerestes, G., Kuterovac-Jagodic, G., & Stetic, V.V. (2001). Pet ownerhip in childhood and socio-emotional characteristics, work values, and profession choices in early adulthood. Anthrozoos, 14, 224-231. Vidovic, V.V., Stetic, V.V., & Bratko, D. (1999). Pet ownership, type of pet, and socio emotional development of school children. Anthrozoos, 12, 211-217. Wilson, C.C., & Turner, D.C. (Eds.). (1998). Companion-animals in human health. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Check this reference, Go back and look at APA rules for chapter in an edited book Zahn-Waxler, C., Robinson, J.L., & Emde, R.N. (1992). The development of empathy in twins. Developmental Psychology, 28, 1038-1047. doi: 10.1037/0012-16184.108.40.2068
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Appendix A: Informed Consent Form You are invited to take part in the study, “Personality and Perceptions of Pets.”
The purpose of this study is to determine how personality affects perceptions of past relationships with pets. You will complete several scales online. Upon reaching a stop sign image, you will pause, and all participants will have five minutes to type on their computers on the prompt provided inside of your experimental packets. Within your packet, you will also find a glossary of mental state terms with examples. You will use these to categorize the mental state represented in a series of pictures of eyes as quickly and accurately as possible. After you have finished, you will raise your hand to have your experimental packet collected, turn your computer monitor back on, and complete the final scale. All results you provide will remain confidential and will not be associated with your name. We do not foresee any risks, although it is possible that you may feel psychological distress from remembering past pets. You will receive 1.5 research units of credit in the psychology course of your choosing for your participation in this research. If you are a non-psychology student, you will receive 15 entries into the Psychology Department‟s raffle for the chance to win one of ten $50 prizes. Your participation is completely voluntary and you may choose to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. If you choose to do so your data will be discarded. Your participation in this study will require approximately 45 minutes in the classroom. When this study is complete you may be provided with the results of the experiment if you request them. If you have any further questions regarding your rights as a participant in this study, please contact the chair of the institutional review board at St. Mary‟s College of Maryland, Roger Stanton, at 240-895-4426 or email@example.com, or in 131 Goodpaster Hall, Department of Psychology, 18952 E. Fisher Rd., St. Mary‟s City, MD 20686. If you have further questions concerning this study please feel free to contact the experimenter through phone or email: Experimenter: Jacqueline Fullerton Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 443-504-3315 Please indicate that you understand your rights and agree to participate in the experiment. Do you give your informed consent to participate in this study? Yes No* Did you own a dog prior to the age of 16? Yes
* A response of “no” disqualified participants from the study.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Appendix B: Demographic Questionnaire Gender Your age in years (e.g. 19) Class First year Your Major(s) Your Minor(s) ID Number (Enter the exact same number as you wrote on your experimental packet) Sophomore Junior Senior Female Male
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY Appendix C: Pet Ownership Questionnaire Instructions: Please carefully consider and respond to the following twenty items (parts A through D) about the details of your pet ownership history. If you are unsure of how to respond, but have some idea, please estimate as accurately as possible. If you have no idea, please DO NOT fabricate data, instead leave the item blank.
Only include pets that your family acquired when you lived full-time in the family household. Part A Instructions: Please respond to the 4 items below about the FIRST pet you bonded with and consider important in your life. 1) Name of the pet: _____________________________ 2) Type of pet: a) Cat f) Bird b) Dog g) Fish c) Equine h) Other: d) Small Mammal (e.g. Hamster) _____________________________ e) Reptile/Amphibian 3) Your approximate age range you owned the pet: a) Starting Age of Ownership______ b) Ending Age of Ownerhsip ______ 4) Your approximate age when you feel you first bonded with the pet: a) ______ Part B Instructions: Of ALL of the pets you‟ve had in your lifetime, please respond to the 4 items below about the one pet do you consider the MOST important to you. This may be the same pet as you responded about in Part A, this is okay, simply use the same responses. 1) Name of pet: _____________________________ 2) Type of pet: a) Cat f) Bird b) Dog g) Fish c) Equine h) Other: d) Small Mammal (e.g. Hamster) _____________________________ e) Reptile/Amphibian 3) Your approximate age range you owned the pet: a) Starting Age of Ownership______ b) Ending Age of Ownerhsip ______ 4) Your approximate age when you feel you first bonded with the pet: a) ______ Part C Instructions: Of ALL of the dogs you‟ve had in your lifetime, please respond to the 5 items below about the ONE DOG do you consider the MOST important to you.
LASTING EFFECTS OF BONDING WITH DOGS ON EMPATHY
Remember this choice. You should answer about this DOG whenever you see DOG written in all capital letters from now on. This may be the same pet as you responded about in Part B, this is okay, simply use the same responses. 1) Name of DOG: _____________________________ 2) Breed of DOG (e.g. German Shepherd, Maltese, Unknown or Unsure): _____________________________ 3) Your approximate age range you owned the DOG: a) Starting Age of Ownership______ b) Ending Age of Ownerhsip ______ 4) Your approximate age when you feel you first bonded with the DOG: a) ______ 5) Please select each type and quantity of pet(s) present in the household at the same time as the DOG. Do not include information about the DOG in your response. (i.e. if a total of 4 dogs where present in the household at the same time, one being DOG, you would respond that 3 dogs were present at the same time) a) b) c) d) e) Cat Dog Equine Small Mammal (e.g. Hamster) Reptile/Amphibian f) Bird g) Fish h) Other: _____________________________
Part D Instructions: Please provide responses to the 7 items below that best reflect the circumstances true of your household during the MAJORITY of the time that you owned the DOG that you selected in Part C: 1) Number of other people regularly present in the household ______ 2) Approximate hours mother figure dedicated exclusively to her career on an average week: (Context: An 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, work week is 40 hours of work per week.) a) Stay at home parent f) 32-38 hours b) 1-7 hours g) 39-46 hours c) 8-15 hours h) 47+ hours d) 16-23 hours i) Not applicable e) 24-31 hours 3) Approximate hours father figure dedicated exclusively to his career on an average week: a) Stay at home parent i) Not applicable b) 1-7 hours c) 8-15 hours d) 16-23 hours e) 24-31 hours f) 32-38 hours g) 39-46 hours h) 47+ hours
4) Circle the marital status of your parental figures the majority of the time you owned the DOG: Married Separated Divorced Other
5) Total number of siblings present in the household a) 0 b) 1 c) 2 d) 3 e) 4 f) 5 g) Other _____________________________ 6) Of the total number of siblings present in the household, how many were female? a) 0 b) 1 c) 2 d) 3 e) 4 f) 5 g) Other _____________________________ 7) Of the total number of siblings present in the household, how many were male? a) 0 b) 1 c) 2 d) 3 e) 4 f) 5 g) Other _____________________________
81 Appendix D: Companion Animal Bonding Scale (CABS) Instructions: The following questions concern your relationship with your companion animal/pet. Please indicate how often you engage in each activity with your pet. Never, Rarely, Often, Generally, Always Copy of permission statement: “Under the following conditions, we are pleased to grant permission to use the scale from the following article in your year-long research project for graduation. However, this is not permission to republish the scale as an appendix, in print or on-line. Please write if you have any further questions that might be related to copyright. The citation must appear at the top of the reproduced copy and must read: Reproduced with permission of authors and publisher from: Poresky, R.H., Hendrix, C., Mosier, J. E., & Samuelson, M.L. The Companion Animal Bonding Scale: internal reliability and Construct validity. Psychological Reports, 1987, 60, 734-746. ©Psychological Reports 1987 Note that our permission is contingent upon your citing completely the original sources of the material, using only the form indicated above. Permission is granted for this particular instance and is renewable. Permission is also granted for nonexclusive world rights in all languages. Note we do not grant permission to reproduce material contained in these journals in electronic format. See the statement posted on the website regarding scholarly use: (http://www.ammonsscientific.com/AmSci/docs/Permissions-Related-to-CopyrightedMaterials.pdf) As there is no commercial transaction involved here, the usual question of permissions fees does not apply. We wish you luck in your research.”
82 Appendix E: The Adult Revised Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test MIE) Adult Eyes Instructions: For each set of eyes, choose and circle which word best describes what the person in the picture is thinking or feeling. You may feel that more than one word is applicable but please choose just one word, the word which you consider to be most suitable. Before making your choice, make sure that you have read all 4 words. You should try to do the task as quickly as possible but you will not be timed. If you really don‟t know what a word means you can look it up in the definition handout. PDFs are attached.
83 Appendix F: Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (TEQ) The following items ask you to respond about the frequency of your behaviors in certain situations. When in the given situations, how likely are you to behave in the described way? Be aware of double negatively worded items. For example: “I do not disagree a great deal.” The meaning of this phrase can be expressed in positive terms as: “To some extent, I agree.” Read each item slowly and consider the response that best describes you. As a reminder, all data is confidential and not associated with your name. Instructions: Below is a list of statements. Please read each statement carefully and rate how frequently you feel or act in the manner described. Circle your answer on the response form. There are no right or wrong answers or trick questions. Please answer each question as honestly as you can. Never Rarely Someti mes 2 Often Alway s 4
When someone else is feeling excited, I tend to get excited too Other people's misfortunes do not disturb me a great deal It upsets me to see someone being treated disrespectfully I remain unaffected when someone close to me is happy I enjoy making other people feel better
I have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me When a friend starts to talk about his\her problems, I try to steer the conversation towards something else I can tell when others are sad even when they do not say anything
84 9. I find that I am "in tune" with other people's moods 0 1 2 3 4
10. I do not feel sympathy for people who cause their own serious illnesses 11. I become irritated when someone cries
12. I am not really interested in how other people feel 13. I get a strong urge to help when I see someone who is upset 14. When I see someone being treated unfairly, I do not feel very much pity for them 15. I find it silly for people to cry out of happiness 16. When I see someone being taken advantage of, I feel kind of protective towards him\her
Adapted from Spreng, N. R., M. C. McKinnon, et al. (2009). "The toronto empathy questionnaire: Scale development and intitial validation of a factor-analytic solution to multiple empathy measures." Journal of Personality Assessment, 91(1): 62-71.
85 Appendix G: Debriefing Form Thank you for taking part in this research: your time and responses are very valuable. The study title presented to you, “Personality and Perceptions of Pets,” did not specifically address the true purpose of the study. Your data will contribute to research examining “The Effects of Companion-animal Bonding on Empathetic Development in Young Adulthood.” Results will assist the scientific community in exploring the construct of empathy, its stability over time, and ability to be influenced by internal cognitions (i.e. perception of a pet as a beneficial companion) and external factors (i.e. relationship with a pet in the household growing up). Furthermore, results will shed light on factors that contribute to the formation of closer relationships between people and pets. If you are interested in discussing the research further, or would like to request the results of the experiment after its completion, please do not hesitate to contact the experimenter: Jacqueline Fullerton at email@example.com If you have any questions regarding your rights as a participant in this study, please contact the chair of the institutional review board at St. Mary‟s College of Maryland, Roger Stanton, at 240895-4426 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or 131 Goodpaster Hall, Department of Psychology, 18952 E. Fisher Rd., St. Mary‟s City, MD 20686.
86 Table 1 Shapiro-Wilk Tests of Normality for CABS, MIE, and TEQ Scores as a Function of Gender and Experimental Condition
Bond Distracted Condition (n = 38) Females (n = 27) Statistic CABS MIE TEQ .956 .958 .976 p .295 .338 .766 Males (n = 11) Statistic .936 .931 .955 p .473 .417 .708
Bond Reminded Condition (n = 45) Females (n = 32) Statistic .968 .947 .974 p .439 .121 .615 Males (n = 12) Statistic .852 .921 .93 p .039* .381 .296
Note. p-values < .05 show skewed distributions of scores on the CABS for males in the bond reminded condition. All other scores are normally distributed across participants. For all scales, higher scores are indicative of more extreme responding in the direction of the construct assessed. CABS = Companion-Animal Bonding Scale; MIE = adult revised Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test; TEQ = Toronto Empathy Questionnaire.
* p < .05
87 Table 2 Mean Scores, Standard Deviations, and Confidence Intervals on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ by Gender
Females (n = 59) Measures CABS M (SD) 19.237 (5.302) MIE 28.322 (3.396) TEQ 48.475 (6.569) 95% CI [17.855, 20.619] [27.437, 29.207] [46.763, 50.186] M (SD) 19.913 (4.852) 27.478 (3.146) 47.130 (7.4791)
Males (n = 23) 95% CI [17.815, 22.011] [26.118, 28.839] [43.896, 50.365]
Total (n = 83) M (SD) 19.427 (5.159) 28.085 (3.330) 48.098 (6.816) 95% CI [18.293, 20.560] [27.354, 28.817] [46.600, 49.595]
Note. CI = confidence interval.
88 Table 3 Mean Scores and Standard Deviations on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ by Experimental Condition
Bond Distracted (n = 38) M (SD) CABS 20.553 (5.451) MIE 28.026 (3.460) TEQ 47.605 (7.769) [45.408, 49.802] [26.913, 29.139] 95% CI [18.921, 22.184]
Bond Reminded (n = 45) M (SD) 18.489 (4.713) 27.956 (3.438) 48.578 (5.876) [45.408, 49.802] [26.933, 28.978] 95% CI [16.990, 19.988]
Note. CI = Confidence Interval.
89 Table 4 Mean Scores and Standard Deviations on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ by Experimental Condition and Gender
Bond Distracted Females (n = 27) Measures M (SD) 20.481 CABS (5.673) 27.963 MIE (3.747) 47.926 TEQ (7.676) 50.962] (8.317) 52.405] (5.553) 29.445] [44.889, (2.786) 46.818 30.054] [41.231, (3.098) 48.938 22.726] [26.481, (5.042) 28.182 24.114] [26.310, (4.809) 28.625 95% CI [18.237, Males (n = 11) M (SD) 20.727 95% CI [17.340,
Bond Reminded Females (n = 32) M (SD) 18.188 95% CI [16.454, 19.921] [27.508, 29.742] [26.935, 50.940] Males (n = 12) M (SD) 19.167 (4.764) 26.833 (3.433) 47.417 (6.987) 95% CI [16.140, 22.194] [24.652, 29.015] [42.978, 51.856]
Note. CI = confidence interval.
90 Table 5 Summary of Correlations between Measures
Measures 1. CABS 2. MIE 3. TEQ
2 .060 ---
3 -.041 .030 ---
M 19.434 27.988 48.133
SD 5.1281 3.4269 6.7819
Note. Correlations between all participants‟ mean scores on primary experimental measures (n = 83).
91 Table 6 Summary of Between-Subject Correlations, Means, and Standard Deviations For Scores On the CABS, MIE, And TEQ as a Function of Gender
Measure 1. CABS 2. MIE 3. TEQ M SD
1 --.041 -.237 19.237 5.302
2 .173 --.070 28.322 3.396
3 .470* -.057 --48.475 6.569
M 19.913 27.478 47.130
SD 4.852 3.146 7.479
Note. Pearson correlations for male participants (n = 23) are shown above the diagonals, and correlations for female participants (n = 59) are shown below the diagonals. Means and standard deviations for males are presented in the vertical columns, and means and standard deviations for females are presented in the horizontal rows. Bolded p-values show correlational trends approaching significance.
*p < .05
92 Table 7 Summary of Between-Subject Correlations, Means, and Standard Deviations For Scores On the CABS, MIE, And TEQ as a Function of Experimental Condition
Measure 1. CABS 2. MIE 3. TEQ M SD
1 --.011 .106 18.489 4.713
2 .109 --.176 27.956 3.438
3 -.132 -.098 --48.578 5.876
M 20.553 28.026 47.605
SD 5.431 4.460 7.769
Note. Pearson correlations for bond distracted condition (n = 38) are shown above the diagonals, and correlations for bond reminded condition (n = 44) are shown below the diagonals. Means and standard deviations for bond distracted condition are presented in the vertical columns, and means and standard deviations for bond reminded condition are presented in the horizontal rows.
*p < .05
93 Table 8 Summary of Between-Subject Correlations, Means, and Standard Deviations For Scores On the CABS, MIE, And TEQ as a Function of Gender and Experimental Condition
Bond Distracted Measure 1 2 -.267 ---.004 27.963 3.747 3 .569 -.400 --47.926 7.676 1 ---.103 -.004
Bond Reminded 2 .463 --.257 28.625 3.098 3 .388 .257 --48.938 5.553 M 20.727 28.182 46.818 SD 5.042 2.786 8.317
1. CABS --2. MIE 3. TEQ M SD .204 -.390* 20.481 5.673
Note. Pearson correlations for male participants in the bond distracted condition (n = 11) and bond reminded condition (n = 12) are shown above the diagonals, and correlations for female participants in the bond distracted condition (n = 27) and bond reminded condition (n = 32) are shown below the diagonals. Means and standard deviations for males are presented in the vertical columns, and means and standard deviations for females are presented in the horizontal rows. Bolded p-values show correlational trends approaching significance.
*p < .05
94 Table 9. Correlations, Means, and Standard Deviations for Presence of Other Dogs and Scores on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ
Measures CABS MIE TEQ
Presence of Other Dogs -.266* .059 -.038
M 19.434 27.988 48.098
SD 5.128 3.427 6.782
Note. Spearman‟s rho correlation coefficient between presence of other dogs and scores on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ across all participants (n = 83).
* p < .05
95 Table 10. Correlations between Presence of Other Dogs and CABS, MIE, and TEQ as a Function of Gender
Females Measures (n = 59) CABS MIE TEQ -.335** -.027 .143
Males (n = 23) -.053 .524 -.484*
Note. Correlations between owning other dogs (no = 0, yes = 1) at the time of The Dog on the CABS, MIE, and TEQ for females and males.
*p <.05 **p <.01
32 31 30 29
Mean MIE Scores
28 27 26 25 24 23 22 Bond Distracted Bond Reminded
Figure 1. Mean scores on the MIE as a function of experimental condition and gender. Error bars represent standard error of the mean. Dashed lines represent lines of best fit for females (red) and males (blue). MIE = Adult Revised Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test.
50 49 48 47
Mean TEQ Scores
46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 Bond Distracted Bond Reminded
Figure 2. Mean scores on the TEQ as a function of experimental condition and gender. Error bars represent standard error of the mean. Dashed lines represent lines of best fit for females (red) and males (blue). TEQ = Toronto Empathy Questionnaire.
CABS Mean Scores
0 No Other Dogs
Presence of Other Dogs
Figure 3. Mean scores on the CABS as a function of owning other dogs at the same time as The Dog. Dashed lines represent lines of best fit for females (red) and males (blue). CABS = Companion Animal Bonding Scale.
Females 60 50 Males
TEQ Mean Score
40 30 47.214 50.385 20 10 0 49.613 42.9
No Other Dogs
Presence of Other Dogs
Figure 4. Mean scores on the TEQ as a function of owning other dogs at the same time as The Dog. Dashed lines represent lines of best fit for females (red) and males (blue). TEQ = Toronto Empathy Questionnaire. **p < .01