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.