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.
Level of Degree
College of Nursing
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Loneliness in adolescence, Attachment behavior in adolescence, Children and animals.
Black, Keri. "Exploring adolescent loneliness and companion animal attachment." (2009). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nurs_etds/30