Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The relationship between human-canine attachment and college adjustment
by King, Camille Ann, Ed.D., Northern Illinois University, 2011, 177; 3473042
Abstract (Summary)

Adolescents who transition to college and take on adult roles are known to experience some level of stress. Freshmen students who feel stressed when adjusting to college can experience feelings of homesickness, or more severe reactions such as anxiety or depression. Severe reactions which are not addressed can lead to a reduction in overall health and function, as well as increased freshmen student drop-out rates. The health benefits of the human-animal bond are well noted in the research to improve both physical and emotional well being. A bond with a pet dog can reduce stress, blood pressure, and heart rates as well as improve emotional well-being and overall health.

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between human-canine attachment and freshmen perception of college adjustment. Quantitative data were collected on three surveys including a demographic survey, the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS) and the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ). Statistical tests carried out were descriptive statistics, Pearson r correlation, MANOVA, ANOVA, and multiple linear regressions.

Findings showed no significant differences were evident when the college adjustment (SACQ) scores of students with some level of attachment to a pet dog were compared to those with no attachment. SACQ subscale scores showed significant differences between those students with "Weak Attachment" and "Strong Attachment" [F(4, 132) = 3.03, p = .020]. Gender did not moderate the relationship between attachment and college adjustment; however, gender was a significant predictor for Academic Adjustment, Social Adjustment, and Personal-Emotional Adjustment. When controlling for pet attachment levels, females showed higher levels of Personal-Emotional (b = 2.87, p = .047) and Academic Adjustment (b = .07, p = .008) than males, and males scored higher on Social Adjustment (b = -.06, p = .023). When pet attachment was not controlled for, gender differences existed for Social Adjustment and Academic Adjustment, with males scoring higher than females on the Social Adjustment subscale and lower on the Academic Adjustment subscale. Significant gender differences existed for pet attachment, with females showing stronger attachment than males [F(1, 204) = 4.72, p = .031].

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Roth, Gene, Smith, Tom
Commitee: Baumgartner, Lisa, Rossetti, Jeanette
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Adult education
Keywords: Bond, Canine-attachment, Canine-human attachment, College adjustment, Freshmen, Health, Human-animal interactions
Publication Number: 3473042
ISBN: 978-1-124-87129-5
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