Human-Animal Bond Research at Conference

Hormones may play a part in bonding with pets, research finds.

Hormone physiology may be the reason why humans bond so closely with pets, according to a group of international researchers from Sweden, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The findings will be presented during the 12th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions: People & Animals — For Life, to take place July 1-4 in Stockholm, Sweden.

“We’re finally beginning to understand the physiological mechanisms underpinning the human-companion animal bond, lending even more credibility to this field of research in the scientific, medical and health communities,” said Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, a Swedish scientist and plenary speaker at the conference. “This allows us to finally postulate an integrative, interdisciplinary model of human-animal relationships.”
The researchers will discuss how the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, the “stress hormone” cortisol and even insulin all play a part.

For example, the team investigated whether children with insecure attachment can use a dog better than a human for stress regulation during a social stressor. The researchers found the lowest salivary stress hormone (cortisol) levels in the children where a live dog was present as opposed to a friendly adult or a stuffed toy dog.

Financial support came from Mars Inc.

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