Animal Interactions Help Young Adults Develop Confidence and Better Social Skills, StudyBy Staff Reporter
Young adults who are extremely fond of animals are more likely to have positive traits, enhanced social relationships and better association with their communities, according to a Tufts University study.
"Our findings suggest that it may not be whether an animal is present in an individual's life that is most significant but rather the quality of that relationship," Megan Mueller, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and research assistant professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and the study's author said in a statement. "The young adults in the study who had strong attachment to pets reported feeling more connected to their communities and relationships."
For the study, researchers surveyed more than 500 participants, mostly female, aged 18 to 26, about their attitudes and relations with animals. Their responses were matched with answers from another group of participants. The second group was questioned about positive youth development characteristics such as competence, caring, confidence, connection, character and feelings of depression
The researchers found that young adults who were passionate about animals were involved in more social activities including community service and leadership actions than those who did not. These participants displayed positive interactions and social communications with others. Caring for animals increased their confidence levels and made them more empathetic towards others.
"We can't draw causal links with this study but it is a promising starting point to better understanding the role of animals in our lives, especially when we are young," said Mueller.
The finding is published online in Applied Developmental Science.
Previous studies showed positive effects of animal interaction with children in therapeutic settings.