Nursing ETDs

Author

Keri Black

Publication Date

9-21-2009

Abstract

This study explored the relationship between companion animal attachment and adolescent loneliness. Self report measures of loneliness (Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale), companion animal attachment (Companion Animal Bonding Scale), and social support (Social Support Questionnaire Revised Short Form) were completed by 293 adolescents from two ethnically diverse southwest rural high schools. Pet information included the type of favored pet, length of pet relationship, the number of household pets, and how the participants described their pet relationship. Participants also provided basic demographic data about themselves and their pets. Descriptive statistics, standard multiple regressions, t-tests, and ANOVAs were employed to examine relationships among the demographic data, pet variables, loneliness, and social support. Pet owners reported significantly lower loneliness scores than non-pet owners, t (290) = 4.1, p < .001. Furthermore, companion animal bonding scores were inversely related to loneliness scores. Social support was measured with two scores: the number of humans in the social network and the perceived satisfaction with the network. Companion animal attachment was positively related to the number of humans in the social support network. However, teens with multiple household pets reported less satisfaction with the social network. Females reported higher pet attachment than males t (241) = 2.61, p = .01, but otherwise no significant demographic factors were found in loneliness or pet attachment scores. Adolescents predominately described their pet relationship with affectionate terms. It is questionable if a companion animal assessment tool aptly captures the feelings adolescents have for their pets. Hence both theory and instrument development for pet attachment among adolescents is recommended.

Degree Name

Nursing

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

College of Nursing

First Advisor

Lobo, Marie

First Committee Member (Chair)

Carlson, Karen

Second Committee Member

Mendelson, Cindy

Third Committee Member

Johnson, Rebecca

Keywords

Loneliness in adolescence, Attachment behavior in adolescence, Children and animals.

Language

English

Document Type

Dissertation

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