The Study of Human-Animal Interactions The CAIRC Scholarship Program Summary of the Past Researches
Summary of the Past Scholarship Research
From "Letter from CAIRC" February 2006
Research Theme:" Development of Measure of Nuisances Caused by Pets and Examination of Difference in Recognition of Nuisances Due to Pet Ownership "
Takuya Yoshida
Masters student, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Nagoya University
Takuya Yoshida, who is studying social psychology at a graduate school, examined negative effects of pet ownership by applying the viewpoint of "social nuisance," an increasingly popular topic in social psychology in recent years, to the study of the human-companion animal relationship.

"According to an opinion poll, 58% of people regard dog droppings as a nuisance," Yoshida points out. "While there are laws and local government efforts to deal with pet-related nuisances, their effectiveness is questionable. It is generally believed that this is after all a matter of the pet owners' morality. I wanted to show with data whether morality really prevents people from allowing their pets to cause nuisances," Yoshida says, explaining his motive.

Yoshida adopted three hypotheses for his study.
Hypothesis 1: People with keener awareness about pet-related nuisances are less likely to allow their pets to cause nuisances.
Hypothesis 2: People with a lower level of morality are more likely to allow their pets to cause nuisances.
Hypothesis 3: People who don't own pets feel a stronger aversion to pet-related nuisances than pet owners.

Before testing these hypotheses, Yoshida had to develop a measure of nuisances caused by pets because there was none available. First, he made a list of 24 common nuisances caused by pets using a preliminary survey and rules for pet owners posted on the Web. He then carried out factor analysis of them. The analysis classified pet nuisances into three categories: nuisances caused by pets freed from the owners' control, nuisances due to poor hygiene and training and nuisances caused by droppings. The hypotheses were examined using these three categories.

One notable finding is that the results didn't support Hypothesis 1. That means people who regard dog droppings as very annoying don't necessarily clean up after their dogs. "So it is doubtful whether a message like 'Don't leave your dog's droppings because that would cause a nuisance to others' is effective for prevention," argues Yoshida. "We need to devise a more effective message." The results, though, supported Hypothesis 3, indicating the issue of pet-related nuisances should be considered more from the viewpoint of people who don't own pets than from pet owners' viewpoint.

"The ultimate goal of my research is to find effective ways to deter people from allowing their pets to cause nuisances. But I think it is still in a basic stage. I intend to review the components of the measure of nuisances and refine the criteria by taking into consideration the social desirability bias - people's tendency to give answers they believe are socially acceptable and desirable," Yoshida says.