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In sharp contrast to prevalent public attitudes of 20 years ago, the field of animal-human relationships is now respected as a legitimate area of scientific investigation. However, it has not yet evolved into a full-fledged discipline: a specific term for this discipline, a body of theory, and a methodology of its own must still be developed. This methodology should make use of both the intuitive and scientific approaches in order to encompass the full richness of animal-human interaction. Four main areas of investigation would be fruitful at this point: {1) the role of animals in various human cultures and ethnic groups over the centuries; {2) the effect of association with animals on human personality development; {3) human-animal communication; and {4) the therapeutic use of animals in formal psychotherapy, institutional settings, and residential arrangements for handicapped and aged populations.

An ambivalent relationship has existed between humans and animals since ancient days, but we may now be ready to translate into reality the myth of the Golden Age when animals and humans lived at peace with each other.


This article was presented as an invited address at the First International Conference on the Human/Companion Animal Bond at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA on October 6, 1981, In response to receipt of the Delta Society Achievement Award for Contributions to the Study of the Human/Companion Animal Bond.