Kids might get more satisfaction from pets than from siblings
Dogs — and not fellow human spawn — might be kids’ real best friends, new research suggests.
Children derive more satisfaction from their pets than they do from their own siblings, a study from the University of Cambridge found.
The survey of 77 12-year-olds, published recently in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, also saw girls reporting “more companionship, disclosure, and conflict” with their pet than boys did, and dog owners leading the pack in companionship and satisfaction compared to other pet owners.
“One of the more striking findings from our study is that children do not report less disclosure with their pets than with their siblings despite the fact that pets cannot communicate meaningfully or understand what is being said to them,” lead study author Matt Cassels told the Daily News in an email.
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“While this may seem like a strike against pets as confidants it may actually highlight one of their primary advantages over siblings; pets are not judgmental or critical, won’t disagree, and will never share a secret.”
The study adapted the Network of Relationships Inventory (NRI), an existing survey instrument used for family relationships, to measure pet attachment — asking kids questions like “How good is your relationship with your pet?,” “How much do you share your secrets and private feelings with your pet?” and “How much do you and your pet disagree and quarrel?”
The newly developed “NRI-Pet” could help measure in future research how the quality of child-pet bonds relates to kids’ social and emotional wellbeing, the authors wrote.
“It is always of course possible that pet relationships, although perceived as important by children, may be less predictive of wellbeing than other human relationships, or may even be detrimental if they replace beneficial human relationships,” Cassels told The News.
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