3 Pets Reduce Loneliness


Based on Research by Allen R. McConnell, Ph.D. Psychology Science Minute written by Sarah Arnett, Psy.D.

Psychology Science Minute brought to you by the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology, I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.

It was just one of those days, lost your keys, your boyfriend broke up with you over the phone and none of your friends are available to talk. So you go home alone to be greeted lovingly by “Maximus Dogimus,” your black Labrador retriever. If he really is a loving member of your family does he provide you with some of the same benefits as a loving human family member?

Payxhologist Allen McConnell’a research found that pets can provide as much support as a sibling or parent, yet do not compete with humans. Pet owners were found to fare better on many dimensions of overall well-being than non pet owners. Specifically, the pet owner can be expected to have better self esteem, be less lonely, more extraverted, and be more physically fit than a non pet owner. Pets were found to compliment other forms of support such as from friends and family. Individuals whose social needs were met by their pets tended to anthropomorphize them which means that they assign human emotions and thoughts to their pets. There is strong evidence that feelings of loneliness and rejection can be alleviated by your pet.

So the next time you are feeling sad and particularly lonely, forgo that expensive bar tab incurred hanging out with friends. Spend the night in with your furry best friend instead.

That’s your Florida Tech Psychology Science Minute. I’m Dr. Sarah Arnett.



McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friends With Benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239-1252.

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