Man's clearest mirror: Exploring how the human-animal bond affects men in a relational way

Anne S Bartone, Tennessee State University


The primary purpose of this study was to explore the bond between men and their canine companions across the lifespan. Due to traditional socialization, men often struggle with psychological intimacy and interpersonal relationships. As such, canine companions may be particularly valuable in orienting men toward a more relational way of being. Data were analyzed from 911 current and/or former dog owners, recruited mostly from electronic classifieds and forums. In addition to demographic questions, participants completed the Gender Role Conflict Scale-Short Form (GRCS-SF), the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale-Short Form (ECR-S), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and the Pet Attachment Scale (PAS). If the participant's most significant canine companion had died or been lost, he was also asked to complete the Grief Pattern Inventory (GPI). Findings supported, as theorized, a difference in patterns of gender role conflict based on age, a difference in the strength of the attachment bond and the level perceived social support from the most significant canine companion based on age, and a difference in a dissonant grief pattern after the loss of the most significant canine companion based on age. Findings did not support a moderating effect of attachment avoidance on the relationship between attachment anxiety and a dissonant grief pattern. While additional research investigating the relationship between males and their canine companions is needed, these findings give credence to the integral part that dogs can play in the lives of men in our culture. Furthermore, this information may be valuable to the many disciplines involved in the study of human-animal bonds.

Subject Area

Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

Anne S Bartone, "Man's clearest mirror: Exploring how the human-animal bond affects men in a relational way" (2014). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3641773.