Psychology of Relationships

Green, J. D., Mathews, M., & Foster, C. A. (2009). Another kind of “interpersonal” relationship: Humans, animal companions, and attachment theory. In E. Cuyler & M. Ackhart (Eds.), Psychology of Relationships (pp. 87-109). New York, NY: Nova Science Press

Human-companion animal relationships provide an important but largely unexplored component of the human experience. Research examining these interspecies relationships may elucidate the depth and meaning of these relationships as well as provide unique insights into the fundamental nature of human psychology. Human-animal relationships offer a distinctive testing ground because pet choice is unilateral, whereas human friendships and romantic partner choices are mutual, and individuals may have reduced fear of rejection or evaluation from a pet than from a human relationship partner. We review and apply to human-pet relationships key elements of attachment theory, including caregiving, exploration, the malleability of attachment styles, and the role of attachment anxiety and avoidance in choosing relationship partners. We also discuss potential future research directions using relationships theories in companion animal contexts.primary purpose of this article was to delineate constraints researchers may encounter in assessing the impact of animals in education, even when using rigorous research designs. A case study is used as a framework for this discussion and consists of a project conducted in a pre-school setting, using a cross-over design to control for most threats to internal and external validity. The project is presented first, with a brief description of the goals and methodology of the project followed by a summary of the outcomes. A discussion follows of the variables and unanticipated, intervening events occurring during the course of the project. Finally, suggestions are provided for addressing these types of constraints in future outcome studies of the impact of animals in education