Recent research on human-dog interactions showed that talking to and petting a dog are accompanied by lower blood pressure (BP) in the person than human conversation. To clarify whether cognition, conditioning, or tactual contact exerted the major influence in this so-called “pet effect,” 60 male and female undergraduates with either positive or neutral attitudes toward dogs interacted with a dog tactually, verbally, and visually while BP and heart rate were recorded automatically. Results revealed that (a) subjects' BP levels were lowest during dog petting, higher while talking to the dog, and highest while talking to the experimenter and (b) subjects' heart rates were lower while talking or touching the dog and higher while both touching and talking to the dog. Touch appeared to be major component of the pet effect, while cognitive factors contributed to a lesser degree. Implications for coping with hypertension are discussed, and suggestions for futher research are stated.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Baun, M. M., Bergstrom, N., Langston, N. F., and Thoma, L. (1984). Physiological effects of petting dogs: Influences of attachment. In Anderson, R. K., Hart, B. L., and Hart, L. A. (eds.),The Pet Connection: Its Influence on Our Health and Quality of Life, Globe, South St. Paul, Minn., pp. 162–170.
Friedmann, E., Katcher, A. H., Meislich, D., and Goodman, M. (1979).Am. Psychol. 19: 915.
Friedmann, E., Thomas S. A., Kulick-Cuiffo, D., Lynch, J. J., and Suginohara, M. (1982). The effects of normal and rapid speech on blood pressure.Psychosom. Med. 44: 545–553.
Friedmann, E., Katcher, A. H., Thomas, S. A., Lynch, J. J., and Messent, P. R. (1983). Social interaction and blood pressure: Influence of animal companions.J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 171: 461–465.
Gantt, W. H. (1972). Analysis of the effect of person.Condition. Reflex 7: 67–73.
Harlow, H. F. (1962). The heterosexual affectional system in monkeys.Am. Psychol. 16: 1–19.
Harlow, H. F., and Zimmerman, R. R. (1959). Affectional responses in the infant monkey.Science 130: 421–432.
Holland, J. (1971). Acute leukemia: Psychological aspects of treatment. In Elkerbout, B., Thomas, P., and Zwaveting, A. (eds.),Cancer Chemotherapy, Leiden University Press, Leiden, Holland, pp. 199–300.
Katcher, A. H. (1981). Interactions between people and their pets: Form and function. In Fogle, B. (ed.),Interrelations Between People and Pets, Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Ill., pp. 41–67.
Katcher, A. H., Friedmann, E., Beck, A. M., and Lynch, J. J. (1983). Looking, talking, and blood pressure: The physiological consequences of interaction with the living enviroment. In Katcher, A. H., and Beck, A. M. (eds.),New Perspectives on Our Lives with Animal Companions, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, pp. 351–359.
Katcher, A. H., Segal, H., and Beck, A. M. (1984). Contemplation of an aquarium for the reduction of anxiety. In Anderson, R. K., Hart, B. L., and Hart, L. A. (eds.),The Pet Connection: Its Influence on Our Health and Quality of Life, Globe, South St. Paul, Minn., pp. 171–178.
Long, J. M., Lynch, J. J., Machiran, N. M., Thomas, S. A., and Malinow, K. L. (1982). The effect of status on blood pressure during verbal communication.J. Behav. Med. 5: 165–172.
Lynch, J. J., Flaherty, L., Emrich, C., Mills, M. E., and Katcher, A. H. (1974a). Effects of human contact on the heart activity of curarized patients in shock trauma unit.Am. Heart J. 88: 160–169.
Lynch, J. J., Fregin, G. F., Mackie, J. B., and Monroe, R. R. (1974b). Heart rate changes in the horse to human contact.Psychophysiology 11: 472–478.
Lynch, J. J., Thomas, S. A., Paskewitz, D. A., Katcher, A. H., and Weir, L. O. (1977). Human contact and cardiac arrhythmia in a coronary care unit.Psyhosom. Med. 39: 188–192.
Lynch, J. J., Thomas S. A., Long, J. M., Malinow, K. L., Chickadonz, G., and Katcher, A. H. (1980). Human speech and blood pressure.J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 168: 526–534.
Lynch, J. H., Long, J. M., Thomas, S. A., Malinow, K. L., and Katcher, A. H. (1981). The effects of talking on the blood pressure of hypertensive and normotensive individuals.Psychosom. Med. 43: 25–33.
Lynch, J. J., Thomas, S. A., Mills, M. E., Malinow, K. L., and Katcher, A. H. (1984). The effects of human contact on cardiac arrhythmia in coronary care patients.J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 158: 88–99.
Moss, H. A. (1970). Early enviromental effects: Mother-child relations. In Spencer, T. D., and Kass, N. (eds.)Perspectives in Child Psychology, McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 2–34.
Passman, R. H. (1977). Providing attachment objects to facilitate learning and reduce distress: Effects of mothers and security blankets.Dev. Psychol. 13: 25–28.
Schaffer, H. R., and Emerson, P. E. (1964). The development of social attachment in infancy.Monogr. Soc. Res. Child Dev. 94: 29.
Sebkova, J. (1977).Anxiety Levels as Affected by the Presence of a Dog, Unpublished senior thesis, University of Lancaster, Lancaster.
Templer, D. I., Salter, C. A., Dickey, S., and Baldwin, R. (1981). The construction of a pet attitude scale.Psychol. Rec. 31: 343–348.
Wolf, S., Cardon, P. V., Shepard, E. M., and Wolff, H. G. (1955).Life Stress and Essential Hypertension, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore.
Wolff, H. G. (1953).Stress and Disease, Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Ill.
Yelderman, M., and Ream, A. D. (1979). Indirect measurement of mean blood pressure in the anesthetized patient.Anesthesiology 50: 253–256.
About this article
Cite this article
Vormbrock, J.K., Grossberg, J.M. Cardiovascular effects of human-pet dog interactions. J Behav Med 11, 509–517 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00844843
- blood pressure