The Perks of Pet Ownership? The Effects of Pet Ownership on Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic

William J. Chopik, Jeewon Oh, Rebekka Weidmann, Jonathan R. Weaver, Rhonda N. Balzarini, Giulia Zoppolat, Richard B. Slatcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pet ownership has often been lauded as a protective factor for well-being, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. We expanded this question to consider how pet (i.e., species, number) and owner (i.e., pet relationship quality, personality, attachment orientations) characteristics affected the association between pet ownership and well-being in a pre-registered mixed method analysis of 767 people assessed three times in May 2020. In our qualitative analyses, pet owners listed both benefits and costs of pet ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic. In our quantitative analyses, we found that pet ownership was not reliably associated with well-being. Furthermore, this association largely did not depend on the number of pets owned, the species of pet(s) owned, the quality of the human–pet relationship, or the owner’s psychological characteristics. Our findings are consistent with a large body of research showing null associations of pet ownership on well-being (quantitatively) but positive reports of pet ownership (qualitatively).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • attachment orientation
  • personality
  • pet ownership
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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