Many of us think we’re super close with our pets. From cat owners who talk to their feline pals all day, or dog moms who are convinced their pups are gifted, we tend to think highly of our pets and smother them with love. But, is it possible there’s a connection between your pet and your mental health? And can your attachment style affect the bond you share with your pet? A new study suggests yes.
While plenty of research has found that our pets can improve our health and reduce anxiety, a new study from BMC Psychiatry has found that people who demonstrate insecure attachment styles (those who tend to be needy or clingy and worry about being abandoned) are likely to have a stronger bond with their pets. More specifically, with their dogs. As Psypost puts it, “people with stronger relationships to their pets display more symptoms of mental disorders and distress,” but the study also reveals that this link “may be fully accounted for by insecure attachment to other humans.”
Related: Dogs can recognize multiple languages and nonsense words: study.
People with insecure attachment styles were more attached to their pets
The study’s authors conducted an online survey of 610 German dog owners, and 93 per cent of participants who answered the questions were women. They found that those who reported being more strongly attached to their dogs said that they had symptoms of distress and mental disorders.
The more emotionally attached people were to their dogs, the less comfortable they were with being dependent on and trusting of other people, and the more they feared being rejected. The study found that an insecure attachment to humans was related to a stronger emotional attachment to pets.
It’s worth noting that the study had its limitations: the respondents were almost entirely women, and it only looked at dog owners. The results may have been different if more men had participated or if it had looked at other pets as well.
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