For anyone who has pets, or even just anyone who likes animals, you know that both animals and humans seem to get a huge amount of pleasure from either stroking the animals or being stroked by the human. This seems to be a very natural thing to do, but why' If another person came up to us and started stroking us, we'd probably be a bit alarmed! However, there have been many scientific studies carried out which actually prove that petting animals is something that both parties involved enjoy, for many different reasons.
Firstly, stroking an animal is a bonding session between the person and the animal, which increases trust in the relationship between the two participants. It is a way of familiarising yourself with the animal, as well as them knowing that you are safe and will be comforting towards them. Anderson et al. (2013) carried out a study involving mice, and found that specialised nerve cells have actually evolved in social animals, so that they feel pleasure when they're being caressed.
This bonding, through stroking, has also shown to have a calming effect on animals, decreasing stress and pain. This is because when you pet an animal, it releases endorphins, which are hormones that decrease pain and stress. These are the same hormones in humans that the brain releases when we eat chocolate, laugh a lot, or fall in love. This is also apparent to us without any scientific experiments, through the fact that animals will often approach you to be stroked, and when you stop stroking them, they often prompt you to carry on.
However, it's not just our furry friends who enjoy this activity. Studies have also shown that petting your cat or dog can have a very similar effect to that of being around your child. Nagasawa and Kikusui (2009) discovered that when we pet an animal, the hormone oxytocin is released, which then relieves pain and stress, as well as increasing happiness and a feeling of trust.
Our advice from this then, is to suggest that everyone should have a pet, as it seems like bonuses all round!
This article has been written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc.
The Science Behind Petting
Monday, 14th December 2015