Dog owners often ascribe human qualities to their dogs and, as such, view them as close others and a source of need support that fosters psychological well-being—this is called the pet effect. In this work, we went beyond the effect of what owners receive from their dogs and examined the benefits of giving need support. Applying self-determination theory’s conceptualization of basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence, we designed a 21-daily diary study (n = 104). Results showed giving need support to a dog contributed to owners’ well-being, lessened their psychological distress, and led to greater closeness to the dog, beyond the contribution of receiving need support. Similar to previous research, we observed benefits for receiving need support. In addition, well-being and closeness increased the tendency to care for a dog. These results support the notion that giving daily need support to a close other, a dog in this case, is beneficial to psychological wellness.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2006). Measuring happiness with a single-item scale. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 34(2), 139–150.
Adelman, R. D., Tmanova, L. L., Delgado, D., Dion, S., & Lachs, M. S. (2014). Caregiver burden: A clinical review. JAMA, 311(10), 1052–1060.
Allen, K. (2003). Are pets a healthy pleasure? The influence of pets on blood pressure. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(6), 236–239.
American Pet Products Association. (2017). APPA national pet owners survey 2017–2018. Retrieved from http://www.americanpetproducts.org/pubs_survey.asp.
Amiot, C. E., & Bastian, B. (2015). Toward a psychology of human–animal relations. Psychological Bulletin, 141(1), 6–47.
Archer, J. (1997). Why do people love their pets? Evolution and Human Behavior, 18(4), 237–259.
Associated Press. (2009, June 23). The AP-Petside.com poll. Retrieved from http://surveys.ap.org.
Associated Press. (2010, April 28). The AP-Petside.com poll. Retrieved from http://surveys.ap.org.
Bizub, A. L., Joy, A., & Davidson, L. (2003). “ It’s like being in another world”: Demonstrating the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding for individuals with psychiatric disability. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 26(4), 377–384.
Bolger, N., Davis, A., & Rafaeli, E. (2003). Diary methods: Capturing life as it is lived. Annual Review of Psychology, 54(1), 579–616.
Bolger, N., & Laurenceau, J. P. (2013). Intensive longitudinal methods: An introduction to diary and experience sampling research. New York, NY: Guilford.
Bosker, R. J., Snijders, T. A. B., & Guldemond, H. (2003). PINT: Power IN Two-level designs. User1s manual. Groningen.
Brown, C. M., Hengy, S. M., & McConnell, A. R. (2016). Thinking about cats or dogs provides relief from social rejection. Anthrozoös, 29(1), 47–58.
Brown, S. L., Nesse, R. M., Vinokur, A. D., & Smith, D. M. (2003). Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it: Results from a prospective study of mortality. Psychological Science, 14(4), 320–327.
Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Applied multiple correlation/regression analysis for the social sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cohen, R., Moed, A., Shoshani, A., Roth, G., & Kanat-Maymon, Y. (2020). Teachers’ conditional regard and students’ need satisfaction and agentic engagement: A multilevel motivation mediation model. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49, 790–803.
Deci, E. L., La Guardia, J. G., Moller, A. C., Scheiner, M. J., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). On the benefits of giving as well as receiving autonomy support: Mutuality in close friendships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(3), 313–327.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268.
Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319(5870), 1687–1688.
Dyer, K., Hooke, G., & Page, A. C. (2014). Development and psychometrics of the five item daily index in a psychiatric sample. Journal of Affective Disorders, 152(1), 409–415.
Epley, N., Akalis, S., Waytz, A., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2008). Creating social connection through inferential reproduction: Loneliness and perceived agency in gadgets, gods, and greyhounds. Psychological Science, 19(2), 114–120.
Fine, A. H. (Ed.). (2010). Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice. Cambridge: Academic Press.
Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology—The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56(3), 218–226.
Friedmann, E., & Son, H. (2009). The human–companion animal bond: How humans benefit. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice, 39(2), 293–326.
Gilbey, A., McNicholas, J., & Collis, G. M. (2007). A longitudinal test of the belief that companion animal ownership can help reduce loneliness. Anthrozoos, 20(4), 345–353.
Gosnell, C. L., & Gable, S. L. (2017). You deplete me: Impacts of providing positive and negative event support on self-control. Personal Relationships, 24(3), 598–622.
Gouldner, A. W. (1960). The norm of reciprocity: A preliminary statement. American Sociological Review, 25(2), 161–178.
Hamaker, E. L., Kuiper, R. M., & Grasman, R. P. (2015). A critique of the cross-lagged panel model. Psychological Methods, 20(1), 102–116.
Herzog, H. (2011). The impact of pets on human health and psychological well-being: Fact, fiction, or hypothesis? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(4), 236–239.
Inagaki, T. K., & Orehek, E. (2017). On the benefits of giving social support: When, why, and how support providers gain by caring for others. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26(2), 109–113.
Inagaki, T. K., Ray, L. A., Irwin, M. R., Way, B. M., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2016). Opioids and social bonding: Naltrexone reduces feelings of social connection. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(5), 728–735.
Kanat-Maymon, Y., Antebi, A., & Zilcha-Mano, S. (2016a). Basic psychological need fulfillment in human–pet relationships and well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 92(92), 69–73.
Kanat-Maymon, Y., Argaman, Y., & Roth, G. (2017). The association between conditional regard and relationship quality: A daily diary study. Personal Relationships, 24(1), 27–35.
Kanat-Maymon, Y., Benjamin, M., Stavsky, A., Shoshani, A., & Roth, G. (2015). The role of basic need fulfillment in academic dishonesty: A self-determination theory perspective. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 43, 1–9.
Kanat-Maymon, Y., Roth, G., Assor, A., & Raizer, A. (2016b). Controlled by love: The harmful relational consequences of perceived conditional positive regard. Journal of Personality, 84(4), 446–460.
Klein, K. J., & Kozlowski, S. W. (2000). From micro to meso: Critical steps in conceptualizing and conducting multilevel research. Organizational Research Methods, 3(3), 211–236.
Kurdek, L. A. (2008). Pet dogs as attachment figures. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25(2), 247–266.
Lucas, R. E., & Donnellan, M. B. (2012). Estimating the reliability of single-item life satisfaction measures: Results from four national panel studies. Social Indicators Research, 105(3), 323–331.
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111–131.
McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friendswith benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239–1252.
McConnell, A. R., Lloyd, E. P., & Buchanan, T. M. (2016). Animals as friends: Social psychological implications of human–pet relationships. In M. Hojjat & A. Moyer (Eds.), Psychology of friendship (pp. 157–174). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Mubanga, M., Byberg, L., Nowak, C., Egenvall, A., Magnusson, P. K., Ingelsson, E., et al. (2017). Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death—A nationwide cohort study. Scientific Reports (Nature Publisher Group), 7, 1–9.
Muldoon, J. C., Williams, J. M., Lawrence, A., & Currie, C. (2019). The nature and psychological impact of child/adolescent attachment to dogs compared with other companion animals. Society & Animals, 27(1), 55–74.
Needell, N., & Mehta-Naik, N. (2016). Is pet ownership helpful in reducing the risk and severity of geriartic depression? Geriatrics, 1(24), 1–7.
Odendaal, J. S., & Meintjes, R. A. (2003). Neurophysiological correlates of affiliative behaviour between humans and dogs. The Veterinary Journal, 165(3), 296–301.
Patrick, H., Knee, C. R., Canevello, A., & Lonsbary, C. (2007). The role of need fulfillment in relationship functioning and well-being: A self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(3), 434–457.
Payne, E., Bennett, P. C., & McGreevy, P. D. (2015). Current perspectives on attachment and bonding in the dog–human dyad. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 8, 71–79.
Pedersen, I., Nordaunet, T., Martinsen, E. W., Berget, B., & Braastad, B. O. (2011). Farm animal-assisted intervention: Relationship between work and contact with farm animals and change in depression, anxiety, and self-efficacy among persons with clinical depression. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 32(8), 493–500.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879–903.
Reis, H. T., Sheldon, K. M., Gable, S. L., Roscoe, J., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). Daily well-being: The role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(4), 419–435.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. New York: Guilford Publications.
Thoemmes, F. (2015). Reversing arrows in mediation models does not distinguish plausible models. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 37(4), 226–234.
Weinstein, N., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). When helping helps: Autonomous motivation for prosocial behavior and its influence on well-being for the helper and recipient. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(2), 222–244.
Wells, D. L. (2009). Associations between pet ownership and self reported health status in people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15, 407–413.
Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890–905.
Young, V., Curran, M., & Totenhagen, C. (2013). A daily diary study: Working to change the relationship and relational uncertainty in understanding positive relationship quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(1), 132–148.
Zilcha-Mano, S., Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2012). Pets as safe havens and secure bases: The moderating role of pet attachment orientations. Journal of Research in Personality, 46(5), 571–580.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Kanat-Maymon, Y., Wolfson, S., Cohen, R. et al. The Benefits of Giving as well as Receiving Need Support in Human–Pet Relations. J Happiness Stud 22, 1441–1457 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-020-00279-9
- Self-determination theory
- Basic psychological need
- Pet effect
- Psychological distress