Well-being: Investigating the Relationship between Attachment to Pets and Connection to Nature
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There is an abundance of literature suggesting that pet ownership and attachment are associated with a wide range of psychological and physiological benefits. Research on the effects of pet attachment on mental health has linked it to happiness (Ory & Goldberg, 1983) and lower levels of depression (Garrity, Stallones, Marx & Johnson, 1989). There is also evidence that a connected relationship with nature is an important part of well-being (Lumber, Richardson & Sheffield, 2017). While the benefits of a connected relationship with animals and nature have been previously established, the actual routes to this connectedness remains unclear. The aim of this study was to bridge the gap between attachment to pets and connection to nature. Participants were asked to answer a series of questions online. The questionnaires that were used in the study comprised of previously designed scales which were used to measure attachment to pets, connection to nature, and well-being. It was predicted that an emotional attachment to pets and childhood pet ownership would influence a connection to nature. In addition, it was expected that a positive correlation would be found between pet attachment and mental well-being. A total of 114 participants took part in the study, 76 of which were pet owners. As expected, pet owners with high attachment scored significantly higher in nature connectedness. Surprisingly, there was no correlation found between pet attachment and well-being. There was also no association between childhood pets and connection to nature.
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