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, 175 (10), 606-12

Physiological Responses of College Students to a Pet

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Physiological Responses of College Students to a Pet

C C Wilson. J Nerv Ment Dis.

Abstract

The effect of a pet on cardiovascular responses of college students was examined under three test conditions (i.e., reading aloud, reading quietly, and interacting with an unknown dog). A repeated-measures analysis with three covariates was used to examine the effect of the treatment on each of six dependent variables (systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, heart rate, and State and Trait Anxiety). Reading aloud differed from baseline measures under all treatment conditions (p less than .001) Reading quietly and interacting with a pet were slightly below baseline for all dependent variables with a slightly greater effect by reading quietly than interacting with a pet. Examination of interactions between variables revealed no significant differences. Effects on State anxiety level mirrored cardiovascular responses (p less than .001). Trait anxiety levels remained relatively constant throughout the treatments. Results indicated that interacting with a pet does affect physiological and psychological responses by lowering response levels. A parallel effect was also demonstrated by reading quietly. Given the effect of pet interaction upon selected indicators of health in well college students, these data suggest the relevance of examining this treatment with an "at-risk" group.

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