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YPIE Scientist: Ariday Vera Galicia

Research: The Correlation Between Domestic Animals and Teenagers Emotional Health

Awards: Somers Science Fair 2022

Mentor: Dr. Begley Miller

Research Location: Teatown Lake Reservation


In the United States, 68% of households have a pet, and the majority of the domesticated pets are cats and dogs. About 30.5% of teenagers reported feeling depressed as a cause of stress, causing concerns of fatigue, withdrawal, drug, and alcohol usage. 94% of therapy pets are dogs since dogs have shown to increase the hormone oxytocin, also called the “love hormone”. To study the effect domestic pets may have on the emotional health of teenagers, a survey was conducted. The survey consisted of a total of 10 questions using a perceived stress scale. The survey was given to teenagers within the ages of 14 to 19 without regard to pet ownership. The teenagers that took the survey were from the state of New York and received the survey via social media, personal messaging, or by scanning a QR code. The responses collected were then analyzed via the software Excel. The responses of every participant were flipped around and summed up to figure out stress level. The stress level number of each participant was separated based on the pet ownership of a cat or dog, and no pet ownership. To observe the responses, box and whisker charts were used. It was found that the mean stress level of those who own a pet was 22.09 and those who do not own a pet had a mean of 21.6. Looking closely at the mean stress level within the teenagers with and without a pet had proven that there was no significant difference between the average stress level amongst teenagers and their ownership of a pet. However, there was a significant difference between the stress level of the teenagers who owned cats versus the teenagers who owned dogs. The average stress level for teenagers that owned cats is 21.27 and for those that owned a dog 26.42. There was a significant difference of 5.15, proving that the ownership of a dog does not lower stress among teenagers. It was, however, taken into consideration that there was a lack of responses from those that do own a cat. This resulted in an unbalanced amount of responses, which caused the results of the average pet ownership stress levels to be higher. This study resulted in showing that domestic pets have no correlation to the stress level of teenagers.

About this Scientist:

Ariday Vera Galicia is a Junior at Yonkers Middle High School. She was inspired to follow with domestic pet research from her own experience of pet ownership. Ariday hopes to possibly work within the veterinary practice as a career.

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