The Dog and Pony Show: A Critique of Human Animal Interaction Research
The scientific evidence supporting certain foundational anthrozooligical assertions regarding the human-animal bond is inadequate to support the definitional human to nonhuman-animal bond phenomenon defined as—a unique, bilateral benefit derived from interspecies interaction that is not and cannot be garnered from interaction with conspecifics (Fine & Beck, 2010). Problems in human-animal interaction research are highlighted and analyzed, such as poor internal validity, lack of control groups, and various confounding variables. Further, the parameters of human-animal interaction research, such as the de facto limitation to animal-human models, is questioned and analyzed in order to offer avenues of human-animal interaction research that could reduce the number of confounding variables. The research alternative offered is the use of animal-animal models to test effects of conspecifics, specifically the effects of interspecies interaction versus intraspecies interaction. In order to view animal-animal models as a viable research alternative, it is first necessary to understand the degree to which humans and nonhuman animals are analogous. However, once understood, the possible introduction of animal-animal models could negate many of the confounds that detract from human-animal interaction research, such as non-randomized sampling and researcher expectations. Ultimately, this investigation raises questions about how and if research should continue to expostulate that animals can be used as proxy emotional models for both human-animal interaction research and as objects of anthropomorphism in therapeutic practice.