Toward a psychology of human-animal relations

Psychol Bull. 2015 Jan;141(1):6-47. doi: 10.1037/a0038147. Epub 2014 Nov 3.


Nonhuman animals are ubiquitous to human life, and permeate a diversity of social contexts by providing humans with food and clothing, serving as participants in research, improving healing, and offering entertainment, leisure, and companionship. Despite the impact that animals have on human lives and vice versa, the field of psychology has barely touched upon the topic of human-animal relations as an important domain of human activity. We review the current state of research on human-animal relations, showing how this body of work has implications for a diverse range of psychological themes including evolutionary processes, development, normative factors, gender and individual differences, health and therapy, and intergroup relations. Our aim is to highlight human-animal relations as a domain of human life that merits theoretical and empirical attention from psychology as a discipline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attitude / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Object Attachment*
  • Personality*
  • Pets / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*