Award Date

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Peter Gray

Second Committee Member

Ivan Sandoval-Cervantes

Third Committee Member

William Jankowiak

Fourth Committee Member

Tiberio Garza

Number of Pages



This dissertation utilized a mixed-methods approach which illustrated the potential benefits of HAI in addressing human health concerns, focusing on specific populations within the United States. The chapters presented in this dissertation provide insight into the complex relationships between humans and animals, including the roles of companion animals in promoting human well-being. Chapter three surveys 234 Americans observing COVID-19 stay at home isolation orders and findings suggest that the presence of companion animals alleviates stress and isolation by providing attachment figures and activities on which to focus one’s energy. Chapter four explores women’s oxytocin levels after interacting with their cat compared with a control condition. Results revealed OT concentrations in the cat condition were correlated to specific human and cat behaviors demonstrating the importance of the human-animal bond in human-health measures. Chapter five showcases the ability for virtual animal stimuli during academic advising sessions to increase students’ positive affect and influence students’ perception of their academic advising, making the use of virtual animal stimuli an accessible and complementary tool to promote well-being. These findings contribute to our understanding of anthrozoology and health, and emphasize the importance of continued interdisciplinary research.


Anthrozoology; Companion Animal; Human-Animal Bond; Human-Animal Interaction; Oxytocin; Social Support


Animal Sciences | Zoology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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Zoology Commons