Self-disclosure with dogs

Evans-Wilday, Aislinn (2016) Self-disclosure with dogs. MRes thesis, University of Lincoln.

23696 Evans-Wilday Aislinn - Life Sciences - June 2016.pdf
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Item Type:Thesis (MRes)
Item Status:Live Archive


There exists an abundance of literature on the health benefits of dog-ownership and the health benefits of self-disclosure however, there has been no research into the potential health benefits of self-disclosure to dogs. This thesis addresses that gap in the literature.
Among the literature on the health benefits of dog-ownership there is often a focus on the benefits to people with clinical conditions or living in care facilities – much less investigated are the benefits to ‘normally-functioning’ owners. Chapter 1 investigates the literature on the health benefits of dog-ownership to ‘normally-functioning’ owners in the form of a systematic literature review. This review highlights the need for future research to fully define the term ‘owner’ when conducting research into the owner-dog relationship and to specify the type and style of relationship being examined, since not all owner-dog relationships are equal.
Chapter 2 is a two-part study. Part 1 assesses the validity of adapting an established self-disclosure scale for use with dogs. Part 2 asks: are there any topics that dog-owners would rather confide in their dog than their human partner? The results indicate that heterosexual female dog-owners are significantly more willing to confide in their dog about feelings of Depression, Jealousy, Apathy and Calmness and are significantly more willing to confide in their partner about feelings of Anger and Fear. Male dog-owners showed no significant differences in their preferred disclosure recipient.
Chapter 3 builds on the research started in Chapter 2 but is a separate study with a new sample of participants. The aim of this study was to: (1) determine the differences between dog-owners and non-dog-owners’ disclosure patterns to their partner, confidante and dog, (2) determine whether dog-owners and non-dog-owners differ in their quality of life using an established quality of life scale and (3) determine whether quality of life can be predicted by disclosure patterns. The results indicate that dogs do not play the same role as confidantes, since dog-owners and non-dog-owners do not differ significantly in their disclosure patterns to their partner and confidante however, there are topics that dog-owners are significantly more willing to talk to their dogs about versus their partners and confidantes. Quality of life scores of dog-owners were higher than non-dog-owners, although self-disclosure to dogs was not predictive of these higher scores.
Chapter 4 discusses the potential benefits of self-disclosure to dogs and discusses reasons behind female dog-owners’ willingness to confide in their dogs, with evidence from qualitative interviews with female dog-owners carried out as part of this research.

Keywords:Dogs, Emotion, Self-disclosure
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:23696
Deposited On:08 Aug 2016 14:28

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