The Impact of Pets on Human Health and Psychological Well-Being: Fact, Fiction, or Hypothesis?
Because of extensive media coverage, it is now widely believed that pets enhance their owners’ health, sense of psychological well-being, and longevity. But while some researchers have reported that positive effects accrue from interacting with animals, others have found that the health and happiness of pet owners is no better, and in some cases worse, than that of non–pet owners. I discuss some reasons why studies of the effects of pets on people have produced conflicting results, and I argue that the existence of a generalized “pet effect” on human mental and physical health is at present not a fact but an unsubstantiated hypothesis.
Herzog, H. (2011). The impact of pets on human health and psychological well-being: fact, fiction, or hypothesis?. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(4), 236-239. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721411415220