The effect of parent divorce and pet ownership during childhood on current psychological well-being and family harmony

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Moulden, Alicia
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Hypothesis: Children in stepfamilies with pets (vs. children in stepfamilies without pets) will have: •greater family harmony •feel more like part of the family •have more positive feelings of well-being •Have less negative feelings of well-being
2345 6 7PetsNo PetsMeans for One Group Pet Ownership Intact FamiliesStepfamiliesOne Group *p=.004 +p=.001 ^p=.001 #p=.006++* * ##^^IntroductionNegative Effects of Divorce•Decrease in parental involvement (Stewart, 2005)•Higher conflict among siblings (Poortman& Voorpostel, 2009)•High levels of mental health disturbances (Schrodt, 2006)•Low levels of academic achievement •School behavior problems (Tillman, 2007)•Less likely to see family as one unit (Afifi& Schrodt, 2003) (Baxter, Braithwaite & Nicholson, 1999)Positive Effects of Pet Ownership•Social support and motivation (Castelli, Hart & Zastoff, 2001) (Herrald, Medina & Tomaka, 2002)•Higher levels of psychological well-being •Less loneliness(El-Alayli, Colli, Hollingsworth & Webb, 2006) (Cohen, 2002) The Effect of Parent Divorce and Pet Ownership during Childhood on Current Psychological Well-Being and Family Harmony Alicia Moulden, Washburn University Faculty Advisor: Joanne AltmanPurposeInvestigate the effects of having a pet as a child on the family unit between intact and stepfamiliesHypothesisChildren in stepfamilies with pets (vschildren in stepfamilies without pets) will have: •greater family harmony •more like part of the family •more positive feelings of well-being •Less negative feelings of well-beingResultsCompanion Animal Bond Scale One Factor Between Group ANOVA (p=ns) •No difference in bonding with pets between intact and step families Psychological Well-Being Scale 2 (Family Structure) x 2 (Pet Ownership) Between group design ANOVAMethod •Participants •60 Women and 31 MenMaterials •Demographic Survey •Companion Animal Bonding Scale (Poreskyet al., 1987) •Completed only by pet owners •Measures the pet-owner bond to confirm a relationship •Psychological Well-Being Scale (Berkman, 1971) •Negative Well-being •“5 statements such as Depressed or very unhappy” •PositiveWell-being •3 statements such as “On Top of the World” •Intact/Stepfamily Harmony Scale (Banker & Gaertner, 1998) •3 subscales •Contact Conditions (Competition, Family time spent, Parental treatment) •Family Harmony Conditions (Overall feelings of harmony within the household) •Cognitive Conditions •One Group (One cohesive family unit) •Two Groups in One (Two smaller families in one larger family) •Two Groups (Two smaller families) •Separate Individuals (Everyone is separate)Procedure •Surveys counterbalanced •completed in groups of 16 or fewer •30 minutes to complete surveys Intact Family without Pets (n=21)Stepfamily without Pets(n=5)Stepfamily with Pets(n=18)Intact Family with Pets(n=47) 2 3456Pets No Pets Means for Negative Well-BeingPet OwnershipNegative Well-Being Intact/Family Harmony Scale 2 (Family Structure) x 2 (Pet Ownership) Between group design ANOVA2 3 456 7 PetsNo PetsMeans for Contact GroupPet OwnershipIntact Families Stepfamilies Contact Group* * **p= .001345 6 7PetsNo PetsMeans for Two Groups in onePet Ownership Intact FamiliesStepfamiliesTwo Groups in One *p=.005 **DiscussionHypothesisChildren in stepfamilies with pets (vschildren in stepfamilies without a pet) feel more like part of the familyLess negative feelings of well-beinggreater family harmonymore positive feelings of well-being Pet Ownership Lower levels of negative well-being But also lower levels of positive well-being; Less unhappy! But less happy too!?? •Why? •Maybe due to having a pet now Limitations Interpretations are made from a low number of participants in some groups! Future Research •Number of Participants Find more participants who were not raised with pets •Investigate the difference in well-being of pet-owners and non-owners Empathy Personality characteristics: neuroticism (emotional) Petas a child Pet now n=48 Petas a child No pet now n=17 Nopetas a child Pet now n=6 No petas a child No pet now n=2045 6 78PetsNo PetsMeans for Positive Well-Being Pet OwnershipIntact FamiliesStepfamilies +p= .021 *p= .022*+Positive Well-Being+* •Pet owners showed less negative feelings than non-owners •Pet owners of intact families had higher positive well-being than non-owners •Surprisingly, Stepfamilies which did not own pets had higher positive well-being than pet owners •Stepfamilies without pets had less contact time with family, felt less like one family, and felt less like a subgroup of one family compared to those with pets or intact families with or without pets