Special Issue "Human-Animal Interaction in Risk and Resilience in Childhood, Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood"

A special issue of Behavioral Sciences (ISSN 2076-328X). This special issue belongs to the section "Social Psychology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 February 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Shelby Elaine McDonald
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
Interests: human-animal interaction; adverse childhood experiences; stress and health; sexual and gender minority stress
Dr. Roxanne Hawkins
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
School of Education and Social Sciences, University of West Scotland, Blantyre, Glasgow G72 0LH, UK
Interests: human-animal interactions; animal cruelty; attachment to pets; pets; mental health
Dr. Kerri Rodriguez
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
School of Social Work, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
Interests: human-animal interaction; mental health; dogs; animal-assisted intervention; psychophysiological health
Prof. Dr. Joanne Williams
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, UK
Interests: child and adolescent health and mental health; children’s understandings of mind, body and mental health; developmental disabilities; children’s and adolescents’ interactions with animals
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Youths’ relationships with companion animals may confer both protective effects and pose risks to their health and wellbeing, and animal welfare. Although there is increasing evidence of associations between positive human-animal interactions (HAI) and behavioral, psychosocial, and cognitive functioning, there is limited research examining the developmental mechanisms through which HAI contributes to risk and resilience during childhood through the transition to emerging adulthood. There is also a significant need for research that examines connections between HAI and social and health inequities that face contemporary youth. This special issue will bring together diverse scholars to advance research on the role of short-term (e.g., animal-assisted interventions) and long-term (e.g., pet ownership) HAI in risk and resilience during the developmental periods of childhood, adolescence, and/or emerging adulthood. We encourage submissions that report on diverse samples, underrepresented groups, and test for possible differences in HAI across population groups. We welcome empirical contributions related to the aforementioned topics (including systematic reviews and qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies) and from various disciplines (i.e., psychology, social work, public health, and sociology).

Dr. Shelby Elaine McDonald
Dr. Roxanne Hawkins
Dr. Kerri Rodriguez
Prof. Joanne Williams
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Behavioral Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Companion animals
  • pets
  • human-animal interaction
  • risk
  • resilience
  • health
  • child development
  • wellbeing
  • mental health
  • socioemotional adjustment

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Relationships among Early Adversity, Positive Human and Animal Interactions, and Mental Health in Young Adults
Behav. Sci. 2021, 11(12), 178; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/bs11120178 - 14 Dec 2021
Viewed by 605
Abstract
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with poor mental health. Emerging research demonstrates the protective role of positive childhood experiences, including a positive sense of self and relationships with both humans and animals, in mitigating the impacts of early life adversity on mental [...] Read more.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with poor mental health. Emerging research demonstrates the protective role of positive childhood experiences, including a positive sense of self and relationships with both humans and animals, in mitigating the impacts of early life adversity on mental health outcomes. This study examined whether benevolent childhood experiences (BCEs) or relationships and interactions with pets during childhood moderated the link between ACEs and current mental health symptoms in a sample of young adults. Students (N = 214) recruited from a public university in the U.S. completed an online survey. The results showed that ACEs were significantly associated with worse mental health symptoms, including anxiety and depression. Neither emotional closeness to a childhood pet dog nor positive interactions with a childhood pet were significant moderators of the relationship between ACEs and mental health. In contrast, more BCEs were associated with better mental health, and their interaction with ACEs was significant such that adversity-exposed young adults with high BCEs reported fewer mental health symptoms than those with low BCEs. The results highlight the need for continued research on differential experiences that may be protective in the relationship between adversity exposures and mental health. Full article
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Article
The Moderating Effect of Comfort from Companion Animals and Social Support on the Relationship between Microaggressions and Mental Health in LGBTQ+ Emerging Adults
Behav. Sci. 2021, 11(1), 1; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/bs11010001 - 23 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2119
Abstract
LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual/gender minority identities) individuals frequently report exposure to microaggressions, which are associated with deleterious mental health outcomes. Social support from humans has been found to be an important protective factor for LGBTQ+ emerging adults. However, [...] Read more.
LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual/gender minority identities) individuals frequently report exposure to microaggressions, which are associated with deleterious mental health outcomes. Social support from humans has been found to be an important protective factor for LGBTQ+ emerging adults. However, an underexplored area of research is the protective role of interactions with companion animals for this population. We conducted simple and multiple moderation analyses to explore whether and to what extent emotional comfort from companion animals and human social support moderated the relationship between LGBTQ-related microaggressions and depressive and anxiety symptoms. Our sample included 134 LGBTQ+ emerging adults (mean age of 19.31). We found that social support moderated the relationship between microaggressions and depressive symptoms. The relationship between microaggressions and depressive symptoms was not significant at high levels of social support, indicating the protective nature of human social support. Comfort from companion animals also moderated the relationship between interpersonal microaggressions and depressive symptoms. For participants with high or medium levels of emotional comfort from companion animals, interpersonal microaggressions were positively associated with depressive symptoms. Our results highlight the need to further investigate the complex role of relationships with companion animals on mental health outcomes for LGBTQ+ emerging adults. Full article
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Article
The Impacts of the Presence of an Unfamiliar Dog on Emerging Adults’ Physiological and Behavioral Responses Following Social Exclusion
Behav. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 191; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/bs10120191 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1496
Abstract
Research indicates that non-human attachment figures may mitigate the negative consequences of social exclusion. In the current experiment, we examined how the presence of an unfamiliar companion dog in the laboratory effects physiological and behavioral reactions in female emerging adults after social exclusion [...] Read more.
Research indicates that non-human attachment figures may mitigate the negative consequences of social exclusion. In the current experiment, we examined how the presence of an unfamiliar companion dog in the laboratory effects physiological and behavioral reactions in female emerging adults after social exclusion compared to inclusion. Results revealed the beneficial effects of the dog: Socially excluded participants in the company of a dog showed less aggressive behavior in response to the hot sauce paradigm compared to excluded participants in the control condition. Furthermore, cardiac responses indicated mitigated perception of threat in a subsequent insult episode when a dog was present. The presence of a dog did not impact the most instantaneous, “reflexive” response to the social exclusion as revealed by characteristic cardiac changes. Together, the findings indicate that the presence of a companion dog takes effect in a later, reflective period following a social exclusion experience, which implicates relevant social elaboration and appraisal processes. Full article
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