Pet relationships

April 3, 2008

Many people have closer relationships with their pets than they do with family members, a researcher has found.

Nickie Charles, a sociology professor at the University of Warwick, asked 193 people to draw a diagram illustrating their close relationships. Around a quarter spontaneously named pets, said Professor Charles, who presented the results of her study at the British Sociological Association conference last week. "In some ways it makes sense that people value those family and friends that are most useful to them," she said. "If pets are useful, either as assistance animals or simply as company, then they have greater emotional value than a relative that we just keep on our Christmas card list."

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