Off-campus Pacific University users: To download campus access theses and dissertations, please log into our proxy server with your PUNet ID and password.

Non-Pacific University users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis or dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Theses or dissertations that have a specific embargo period indicated below will not be available to anyone until the date indicated.

Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (MSCP)

Committee Chair

Catherine Miller, Ph.D.


This literature review critically evaluates research that focuses on the social and emotional benefits of interacting with a companion animal. Companion animals have been hypothesized to offer many social benefits including facilitating human interaction, offering companionship and social support, decreasing loneliness, and fostering development of empathy. Companion animals have also been hypothesized to offer emotional benefits including decreasing distress while one is undergoing a medical procedure, decreasing a pet owner's negative mood, increasing self-esteem, and helping pet owners move through the grief process. Much of the research lacks an experimental and control group since people cannot be assigned to own pets, and for this reason more replication studies need to be conducted as well as studies with experimental designs. Researchers have found that interacting with companion animals is correlated with many benefits, but the effects can vary by individual and is not the same for every type of animal or person.