Understanding and Quantifying the Roles of Perceived Social Support, Pet Attachment, and Adult Attachment in Adult Pet Owners' Sense of Well-being
Langston, Stephanie Cecile
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Researchers have extolled the benefits of pet ownership. Most of the studies which have been published lack a theoretical lens through which to conceptualize the human-animal bond. Attachment theory offers a framework for understanding the connection between humans and pets. This study applied attachment theory to the human-animal bond in an effort to understand whether pet attachment (PAtt) is related to adult attachment (AAtt), subjective well-being (SWB), and perceived social support (PSS). Beyond correlational analyses, this study also examined the degree to which individual differences in pet attachment can uniquely predict subjective well-being in adults who own pets.Participants were 561 pet-owning adults who completed a demographic questionnaire, the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR), the Pet Attachment Questionnaire (PAQ), the Perceived Social Support from Friends and Family Scales (PSS), the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule Expanded Form (PANAS-X).Results indicated that Adult Attachment (AAtt) scales (anxiety and avoidance) were inversely correlated with positive affect (PA) and satisfaction with life (SWLS), and were positively correlated with negative affect (NA). Perceived Social Support (PSS) was positively correlated with PA and SWLS and negatively correlated with NA. PSS was a significant predictor of SWB, AAtt was a significant predictor of SWB, and PSS predicted AAtt. AAtt partially mediated the relationship between PSS and PA, fully mediated the relationship between PSS and NA, and partially mediated the relationship between PSS and SWLS. No significant moderation effects were found for the interaction between AAtt and PSS in predicting participants' SWB. Pet Attachment (PAtt) anxiety had significant correlations with AAtt anxiety and avoidance, while PAtt avoidance had a significant correlation with AAtt avoidance and no relationship with AAtt anxiety. PAtt avoidance was significantly associated with NA, but not PSS, SWLS, or PA; PAtt anxiety was significantly correlated with PSS, SWLS, PA, and NA. PAtt avoidance significantly predicted SWLS and PAtt anxiety significantly predicted NA. PSS was not found to be a significant predictor in either facet of PAtt, and PSS did not predict PAtt. Interpretation and limitations of the findings, applied implications, and future directions are discussed.