London: Even people who aren't struggling with illness can benefit from the emotional support provided by pets, said a study. Researchers also found evidence to dispel the notion people's relationships with their pets come at the cost of their ties with other humans, according to the study published online Monday by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"We observed evidence that pet owners fared better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences, than non-owners on several dimensions," study co-author Allen McConnell, of Miami University in Ohio, said in a statement.

"Specifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extroverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners," the researcher said.

Researchers studied three different groups, the largest of which comprised 217 people, both pet owners and non-owners. The group was 79 per cent female, with a median age of 31 and median household income of USD77,000 a year.

"The present work presents considerable evidence that pets benefit the lives of their owners, both psychologically and physically, by serving as an important source of social support", the study says, noting that previous research had "focused primarily on pet owners facing significant health challenges".

(Agencies)

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