Child Indicators Research

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 111–131 | Cite as

The Short Attachment to Pets Scale (SAPS) for Children and Young People: Development, Psychometric Qualities and Demographic and Health Associations

  • Ferran Marsa-SambolaEmail author
  • Janine Muldoon
  • Joanne Williams
  • Alistair Lawrence
  • Melanie Connor
  • Candace Currie


This study describes the development of the SAPS and investigates its reliability and validity within the context of the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Survey (HBSC) which gathered data on representative samples of school pupils aged 11, 13 and 15 in Scotland and England. In the development of SAPS, following a comprehensive review of the literature, two small-scale empirical studies were carried out (one qualitative and one quantitative). Regarding the validation process, the reliability and validity of the SAPS was assessed in a sub-sample (n = 7159) of pupils who completed the HBSC survey and were identified as owning pets. Factor analysis resulted in a one-factor solution (explaining 67.78 % of the variance); Cronbach’s alpha for the scale was 0.894. The item-total correlation ranged from 0.368 to 0.784. A linear model showed that attachment to pets was associated with age (being 11 or 13 years old), being a girl, white ethnicity, and considering a pet as one’s own. SAPS scores were also positively associated with quality of life. The total variance in SAPS explained by these variables was 15.7 %. Effect sizes of associations were medium (age, considering a pet as one’s own) and small (ethnicity, age, gender, quality of life). The study concludes that SAPS is a coherent and psychometrically sound measure. It is associated with a range of demographic variables and quality of life, which confirms its utility as a new succinct measure of children’s and young people’s attachment to pets for use in health and social science research.


Attachment Pets Young people Children Health HBSC 



The findings presented belong to “An investigation of 1317 year olds’ attitudes and behaviour to animals and development and testing of interventions to promote the concept of Duty of Care”(SMDO-ZGLD15) which was funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The national HBSC teams in England and Scotland are acknowledged as is the International HBSC Study (Dorothy Currie).

Competing interests

The authors declare not competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ferran Marsa-Sambola
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janine Muldoon
    • 1
  • Joanne Williams
    • 2
  • Alistair Lawrence
    • 3
  • Melanie Connor
    • 3
  • Candace Currie
    • 1
  1. 1.Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU)University of St AndrewFifeUK
  2. 2.Clinical PsychologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Scotland’s Rural CollegeEdinburghUK

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