A study from the University of Cambridge found that children tend to prefer the company of their pets to that of their siblings.
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, surveyed 77 twelve-year-olds and found that dog ownership - as opposed to ownership of other types of pets - provided the highest reported levels of satisfaction. It also found that girls reported more of the hallmarks of a sibling-like bond with their pets than boys did.
In an email to the Daily News, lead study author Matt Cassels noted;
"One of the more striking findings from our study is that children do not report less disclosure with their pets than with their siblings despite the fact that pets cannot communicate meaningfully or understand what is being said to them."
Cassels went on to explain that that particular finding sheds some light on why pets seem to have an edge over human siblings when it comes to companionship. Their inability to communicate verbally makes them much easier to confide in.
"Pets are not judgmental or critical, won't disagree, and will never share a secret," Cassels wrote.
In order to gauge the study participants' degree of attachment to their pets, the researchers used an adapted version of the Network of Relationships Inventory (NRI), a survey tool used to study family relationships. Children were asked questions such as, "How much do you share your secrets and private feelings with your pet?" and "How much do you and your pet disagree and quarrel?"
The researchers believe the newly developed "NRI-Pet" will prove useful in future research focused on how pet ownership relates to children's social and emotional health.
In his email to the Daily News, Cassels cautioned against viewing child-pet relationships as the be-all, end-all predictor of child wellbeing, and noted that this study was simply a jumping off point for further studies "involving longitudinal measures of wellbeing alongside child-pet and child-human relationships..."
What do you think? Do you love your pet more than your siblings? Let us know in the comments section!
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