Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Friends with Benefits: Pets Make Us Happier, Healthier


Social support is essential for psychological and physical well-being, but are people the only source for our sense of belongingness? For example, lonely people are often advised to get a dog or a cat to quell their social isolation, but is it really the case that pets can fulfill one's social needs, serving to improve owners' happiness, well-being, and even their physical health? A new study suggests the answer is a resounding yes!
Research conducted in our lab just published on-line in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicates that pets provide meaningful social support for owners, improving their lives. Whereas some past research found that people facing serious health challenges (e.g., recent heart attacks, HIV) fare better with pets, the current work found that everyday people can benefit from pet ownership as well.