Just thinking about your pet dog may help you cope with social rejection, according to new research which suggests that animals have a unique ability to comfort people.
People who are more likely to assign human-like qualities to animals or inanimate objects may benefit from just thinking about animals when feeling socially rejected, researchers said.
“Those who are more predisposed to attribute entities with human like-characteristics would benefit from even the most minimal engagement with animals,” said Christina M Brown from Arcadia University in the US.
In three separate studies, participants were asked to relive past experiences of social rejection. After this, they were then asked to name photographed animals and their feelings were analysed again.
Participants who thought of names for animals reported less negative emotions and feelings of rejection than those who did not, researchers said.
Thinking about naming a human did not produce the same effect; with the study showcasing evidence that thoughts about a pet can provide a soothing stimulus for humans, they said.
Anthropomorphism may be an effective and powerful way to eradicate and combat the negative feelings that result from social rejection, researchers said. The findings were published in the journal Anthrozoos.