Attachment to Pets and Love for People – is There a Connection?



Objective. The study is aimed at investigating the relationship between attachment to pets and pro-social personality characteristics – environmental identity, moral motives, and ecological lifestyle.
Background. Attachment to pets is being investigated in the context animal-assisted therapy animal rights protection but the question of the possible contribution of this phenomenon to the development of humane treatment of people is still open. Is it possible to expect that attachment to a pet has a humanizing effect or does retain its specificity without being related to the pet owners’ pro-social attitudes – this research question reflects the main problem of the study.
Study design. The study has correlational design; data was collected online using the service.
Participants. The study sample consisted of 284 respondents (224 women, 60 men, aged 18-76, Mage = 25,4, SDage = 9,7, mostly owners of cats and dogs, mostly Russian citizens).
Measurements. Validated Russian versions of the questionnaires were used, i.e., the Lexington attachment to pets scale (modified 8-item version prepared in this study), the 30-item Moral motives scale, the 14-item Environmental identity scale, and the 7-item Ecological lifestyle scale.
Results. It has been found that different aspects of attachment to a pet are indeed associated with environmental identity, moral motives (with the exception of self-restraint), and social eco-activism. It is also shown that two aspects of attachment to pets (pet rights and the experience of happiness from communicating with a pet) in different combinations predict the motives of not-harming, helping, social justice, and social eco-activism.
Conclusions. Attachment to pets is positively related to the pro-social attitudes of the pet owners, mostly those reflected an active pet owners’ position, but is not connected with the self-restraint qualities.

General Information

Keywords: moral motives; pet attachment; environmental psychology; environmental identity; ecological lifestyle

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. This article is an output of a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University).

Received: 13.02.2023


For citation: Nartova-Bochaver S.K., Larionow P., Scherba E.K. Attachment to Pets and Love for People – is There a Connection?. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2024. Vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 156–170. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2024150110. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Sofya K. Nartova-Bochaver, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Head of the Laboratory for the Psychology of Salutogenic Environment, Department of Psychology, HSE University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Pawel Larionow, PhD, Specialist of Psychological Tests Lab, Faculty of Psychology, Kazimierz Wielki University, Bydgoszcz, Poland, ORCID:, e-mail:

Ekaterina K. Scherba, Intern Researcher at the Laboratory for the Psychology of Salutogenic Environment, HSE University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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