Universities have instituted programs named “Pet Your Stress Away,” where students are available in and interact with cats and dogs to help alleviate among the strain.
Scientists at Washington State University have recently demonstrated that, along with improving students’ moods, these packages can get “under the skin” and have stress-relieving physiological benefits.
“Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact,” stated Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development. “Students in our research that interacted with cats and dogs had a major reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”
Pendry revealed these findings with WSU graduate student Jaymie Vandagriff last month in AERA Open, an open-access journal printed by the American Educational Research Association.
That is the first research that has demonstrated reductions in students’ cortisol levels throughout a real-life intervention rather than in a laboratory setting.
The research involved 249 college students randomly divided into four teams. The first group obtained hands-on interaction in small groups with cats and dogs for 10 minutes. They might pet, play with, and generally hang out with the animals as they needed.
To match the effects of various exposures to animals, the second group observed different individuals petting animals while they waited in line for their turn. The third group watched a slideshow of the identical animals available through the intervention, while the fourth group was “waitlisted.”
These students waited for their turn quietly for 10 minutes without their phones, reading supplies, or other stimuli, however, were advised they’d experience animal interaction soon.