Can pets be good for romantic relationships? Carleton grad Anika Cloutier (now at Queen’s University) and Psychology faculty member Johanna Peetz conducted several studies showing that pet ownership was associated with relationship benefits (greater overall relationship quality, partner responsiveness, adjustment and relational investment) among couples who owned pets together compared to couples with no pets. They also identified one possible reason for why pets may benefit relationships: Living with a companion animal might provide the opportunity to practice empathic abilities, which is a fundamentally important ability in the maintenance of positive relationships. The longer participants reported having lived with a pet, the higher their ability to take other people’s perspective and to feel empathic concern.

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