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posted by hubie on Wednesday November 15, @11:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the do-you-want-to-pet-my-kitty? dept.

The vast majority of dog and cat owners will say their pets enrich their lives in countless ways and bring immeasurable levels of extra happiness, but researchers from Michigan State University suggest that most pet owners may just be telling themselves what they want to hear. Their new study found that despite owners claiming pets improve their lives, researchers did not see a reliable association between pet ownership and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The pandemic was a stressful time for everyone, to put it lightly. Even the most laid-back among us found themselves overwhelmed by the lockdowns and social distancing guidelines that dominated 2020. So, the research team at MSU theorized that the pandemic represented an ideal time to study just how much comfort and happiness pets really provide to their families.

In all, the study authors assessed a total of 767 people on three separate occasions in May 2020. The research team opted to adopt a mixed-method approach that allowed them to simultaneously assess several indicators of well-being, all while also asking participants to reflect on the role of pets from their point of view in an open-ended manner. Generally, pet owners predictably reported their pets made them happy. More specifically, they said their pets helped them feel more positive emotions and provided affection and companionship.

On the other hand, the participants also articulated the dark side of pet ownership, such as worries related to their pet's well-being or having their pets interfere with working remotely.

[...] "People say that pets make them happy, but when we actually measure happiness, that doesn't appear to be the case," says William Chopik, an associate professor in MSU's Department of Psychology and co-author of the study, in a university release. "People see friends as lonely or wanting companionship, and they recommend getting a pet. But it's unlikely that it'll be as transformative as people think."

As a lifetime pet owner who's had at least a dozen dogs over the years, I take umbrage with the study's findings. My dogs are always thrilled to see me when I arrive home from a long, tiring day of work, and taking them for a walk or just being in their presence immediately lifts my spirits. And I remember the calming effect petting a cat had for my ex-wife when she was pregnant and having a bad day.

Journal Reference:
Chopik, W. J., Oh, J., Weidmann, R., et al. (2023). The Perks of Pet Ownership? The Effects of Pet Ownership on Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672231203417


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Thursday November 16, @11:19AM (3 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 16, @11:19AM (#1333138) Homepage Journal

    By "security" I don't mean the meanest pack of Dobermans, trained to attack. Dogs have better sensory perception than humans. When dogs are disturbed, frightened, or merely curious, they tend to make a lot of racket, alerting the alpha member of the pack to intrusions. The most worthless lapdog makes a pretty good alarm system. A home intrusion isn't going very far before your dog alerts you to it. Not to mention that all the racket can frighten away home intruders before the situation becomes dangerous.

    Many, maybe even most, dogs are rather cowardly, and they aren't going to attack the intruder. That's your job as the pack's alpha member. The dog may or may not join you in the attack, but you're still the alpha, and you must lead the way. Only those specially trained guard dogs will lead the attack, or a rare dog that is especially brave.

    If you live in a bad section of town, it's reassuring to know your dog will awaken you before any intruder is standing over you with a knife.

    --
    Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Thursday November 16, @02:47PM (2 children)

    by Gaaark (41) on Thursday November 16, @02:47PM (#1333156) Journal

    From your previous posts, wouldn't you be better off with a gun?

    Just sayin'! ;)

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday November 16, @03:23PM

      by Freeman (732) on Thursday November 16, @03:23PM (#1333161) Journal

      I mean, if you're asleep that gun isn't going to do squat for you. Dogs are great for just scaring away would be intruders as well. I mean, a Chihuahua isn't going to do much, but a lot of times the would be intruder doesn't want added noise. Due to the fact that they don't want to be caught and extra noise is a good way to draw attention to oneself.

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Thursday November 16, @04:40PM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 16, @04:40PM (#1333171) Homepage Journal

      As Freeman already pointed out, an entire armory is useless if I'm not awake to deal with the intruder. My dog has better ears and nose than I do. Her eyes are only little better than mine, but her eyes are open long before mine are.

      --
      Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton