Applied Animal Behaviour Science

Coleman, J.A., Green, B., Garthe, R.C., Worthington, E.L., Barker, S.B., Ingram, K.M. (2016).  The Coleman Dog Attitude Scale (C-DAS): Development, refinement, validation, and reliability. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 176, 77-86. 

Human-animal interactions have been studied for many years. As the human-animal interaction field continues to grow, the need for measures that adequately assess fundamental human-animal domains (e.g., relationships, interactions, attachments, bonds) also increases. Specifically, attitudes towards dogs is an important construct given that dogs are commonly owned pets and there is a preponderance of human-animal interaction research focusing on dogs. The current study involved the development, refinement, reliability, and validation of a scale measuring attitudes toward dogs (the Coleman Dog Attitude Scale; C-DAS). Items for the scale were developed through a previous unpublished study that assessed individuals’ attitudes toward dogs using the tripartite model (i.e., thoughts, feelings, and behaviors) of attitude structure. Experts winnowed down items to develop a 63-item scale for Study 1. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted on data from undergraduate students (N = 502). A one-factor solution was produced and the measure was refined to a 24-item scale. The C-DAS had an alpha of .98. In Study 2 (N = 219 undergraduates), a 2-week test-retest reliability analysis was conducted (r = 0.75) and evidence of construct validity was assessed. The C-DAS had an alpha of .98 at Time 1 and .99 at Time 2. In Study 3 (N = 125), a community sample was utilized to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis and adduce additional evidence for construct validity. In this sample, the C-DAS had an alpha of .98. The C-DAS was deemed to have adequate psychometric support to be used in further research. Scores on the C-DAS predicted behavioral intentions of interacting with dogs, but did not consistently predict donating to a charity related to dogs or volunteering to help children who have a fear of dogs. The C-DAS showed significant, though weak, associations with measures of connections to animals and nature, and a strong association to measures of attitudes toward pets, providing some additional evidence of construct validity. The C-DAS has the potential to allow researchers to control for attitudes toward dogs in future studies examining human-animal interactions.