A dog is man’s best friend, the old adage tells us — and, indeed, new research shows that when it comes to fulfilling our basic psychological needs, humans do benefit from their pets in much the same way they do from their friends.
Researchers from Miami University and Saint Louis University set out to test whether a person can really lean on his or her pets to “fulfill one’s social needs” — that is, to feel connected and in control of one’s life. A growing literature in psychology has already shown that among the elderly or the very ill, caring for a pet can help stave off loneliness and even improve physical health. But can pets bolster mental health among people who aren’t already feeling isolated from other humans? That was the question the researchers set out to test.
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