Evaluating Educational Training Impact on Pre-service Students’ Attitudes towards Human-Animal Relationships

Yuleinys A Castillo, Denise Silcox, Lynn Fischer


Experts suggest that human-animal relationships can bring benefits to households, work environments, and training facilities. Animals can also have a positive impact on humans’ psychological well-being, interpersonal relationships, and interaction with human services providers. Even though human services providers need to understand clients’ holistic experiences, animals are often excluded from treatment and services. Therefore, human services students, who have exposure to the human animal bond, can be more effective providers and understand the role of animals in society. This study evaluated the impact of information about the human-animal bond on attitudes towards animals among pre-service human services students. In addition, the educational background of participants was considered to identify differences in attitudes towards animals. Factor analyses of the attitudes measure revealed three factors – positive and negative attitudes towards animals and law related items. Since exposure to material, by reading or lectures, was found to influence attitudes of human services majors, information about human-animal relationships should be incorporated in higher education and professional development programs. Subsequent major-specific analyses indicated favorable attitudes associated with human services majors (rehabilitative services and social work). Implications for educators and higher education programs to incorporate material on animal welfare, animal assisted interventions, and animal-human relationships, and professionals are discussed.


human services, education, human-animal bond, attitudes, animals

Full Text:




Al-Fayez, G., Awadalla, A., Templer, D. I., & Arikawa, H. (2003). Companion animal attitude and its family pattern in Kuwait. Society & Animals, 11, 17–28.

Balcombe, J.P.(2000). The use of animals in higher education: Problems, alternatives, and recommendations. Washington, DC: Humane Society Press.

Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Funder, D. C. (2007). Psychology as the science of self-reports and finger movements: Whatever happened to actual behavior? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 396–403. doi: 10.1111/j.1745- 6916.2007.00051.x

Beatson, R., Loughnan, S., & Halloran, M. (2009). Attitudes toward animals: The effect of priming thoughts of human-animal similarities and mortality salience on the evaluation of companion animals. Society & Animals,17(1), 72–89.

Berget, B., Grepperud, S., Aasland, O. G., & Braastad, B. O. (2013). Animal-assisted interventions and psychiatric disorders: Knowledge and attitudes among general Practitioners, Psychiatrists, and Psychologists. Society & Animals, 21(3), 284–293.


Black, A.F., Chur-Hansen, A., & Winefield, H.R. (2011). Australian psychologists’ knowledge of and attitudes towards animal-assisted therapy. Clinical Psychologists, 15, 69–77.

Camp, M. M. (2001). The use of service dogs as an adaptive strategy: A qualitative study. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 509–517.

Castano, C. (2012). Fostering compassionate attitudes and the amelioration of aggression through a science class. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(8), 961–986.

Culbertson, H. (1968). What is an attitude?. Journal of Cooperative Extension. 79–84.

Eagly, A. H., & Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

Fairman, S. K., & Huebner, R. A. (2000). Service dogs: A compensatory resource to improve function. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 13, 41–52.

Faver, C.A., & Cavazos, A. M. (2008). Love, safety, and companionship: The human-animal bond and Latino families. Journal of Family Social Work, 11(3), 254–271.

Faver, C.A., & Muñoz, J. D. (2014). Orientations to nonhuman animal welfare: A view from the border. Society & Animals, 22, 372–389.

Hart, L. A., Zasloff, R. L., & Benfatto, A. M. (1996). The socializing role of hearing dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 47, 7–15. doi: 10.1016/0168- 1591(95)01006-8

Hazel, S. J., Signal, T. D., & Taylor, N. (2011). Can teaching veterinary and animal-science students about animal welfare affect their attitude toward animals and human-related empathy? Journal of veterinary medical education, 38(1), 74.

Henry, B., & Pulcino, R. (2009). Individual difference and study-specific characteristics influencing attitudes about the use of animals in medical research. Society & Animals, 17, 305–324.

Herzog, H. (2011).The impact of pets on human health and psychological well-being: Fact, fiction, or hypothesis? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(4):236–239. doi: 10.1177/0963721411415220

Knight, S., & Barnett, L. (2008). Justifying attitudes toward animal use: A qualitative study of people’s views and beliefs. Anthrozoös, 21, 31–42.

Knight, S., Nunkoosing, K., Vrij, A., & Cherryman, J. (2003). Using Grounded Theory to examine people's attitudes toward how animals are used. Society & Animals, 11(4), 307–327.

Mackenzie, S. B, & Lutz, R. J. (1989). An empirical examination of attitude toward the ad in an advertising pretest context. Journal of Marketing, 53, 48–65.

Mader, B., Hart, L. A., & Bergin, B. (1989). Social acknowledgements for children with disabilities: Effects of service dogs. Child Development, 60, 1529–1534.

Matsunaka, K., & Koda, N. (2008). Acceptance of dog guides and daily stress levels of dog guide users and nonusers. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 102, 295–304.

Nicoll, K., Trifone, C., & Samuels, W. (2008). An in-class, humane education program can improve young students' attitudes toward animals. Society & Animals, 16(1), 45–60.

Ostrom, T. M. (1969). The relationship between the affective, behavioral, and cognitive components of attitude. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 5, 12–30.

Preylo, B. D., & Arikawa, H. (2008). Comparison of vegetarians and non-vegetarians on pet attitude and empathy. Anthrozoos, 21(4), 387–396.

Risley-Curtiss, C. (2010). Social work practitioner and the human companion animal bond: A national study. Social Work, (55), (1), 38–46.

Risley-Curtiss, C., Rogge, M.E., & Kawam, E. (2013). Factors affecting social workers’ inclusion of animals in practice. Social Work, 58(2), 153–161.

Rossbach, K. A., & Wilson, J. P. (1992). Does a dog’s presence make a person appear more likable? Two studies. Anthrozoös, 5, 40–51. doi: 10.2752/089279392787011593

Saucier, D. A., & Cain, M. E. (2006). The foundations about animal research. Ethics and Behavior, 16, 117–133.

Schaefer, K. D., Hays, K. A., & Steiner, R. L. (2007). Animal abuse issues in therapy: A survey of therapists' attitudes. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38, 530–537.

Schneider, M. S., & Harley, L. P. (2006). How dogs influence the evaluation of psychotherapists. Anthrozoös, 19, 128–142. doi: 10.2752/089279306785593784

Serpell, J. A. (2004). Factors influencing human attitudes to animals and their welfare. Animal Welfare,13, S145-S152.

Serpell, J., Coppinger, R., Fine, A., & Perlata, J. (2010) Welfare Considerations in therapy and assistance animals. In Fine, A. (Ed.), Handbook of animal assisted therap (pp. 481–503). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Shapiro, K., & DeMello, M. (2010). The state of human-animal studies. Society & Animals, 18(3), 307–318.

Sherman, B. L., & Serpell, J. A. (2008). Training veterinary students in animal behavior to preserve the human-animal bond. Journal of veterinary medical education, 35(4), 496.

Signal, T. D., & Taylor, N. (2006). Attitudes to animals in the animal protection community compared to a normative community sample. Society & Animals,14(3), 265–274.

Silcox, D., Castillo, Y. A., & Reed, B. J. (2014). The human animal bond: Applications for rehabilitation professionals. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 45(3), 27–37.

Sims, V., Chin, M., & Yordon, R. (2007). Don’t be cruel: Assessing beliefs about punishments for crimes against animals. Anthrozoös, 20, 251–259.

Valentine, D. P., Kiddoo, M., & LaFleur, B. (1993). Psychosocial implications of service dog ownership for people who have mobility or hearing impairments. Social Work in Health Care, 19, 109–125. doi: 10.1300/J010v19n01_07

Wells, M., & Perrine, R. (2001). Pets go to college: The influence of pets on students’ perceptions of faculty and their offices. Anthrozoös, 14, 161–168. doi:10.2752/089279301786999472

Winkle, M., Crowe, T. K., & Hendrix, I. (2012). Service dogs and people with physical disabilities partnerships: A systematic review. Occupational Therapy International, 19, 54–66. doi: 10.1002/oti.323


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 2348 –0874