The Anodyne-Agent Model: A Framework for Conceptualizing the Animal’s Role in Animal-Assisted Intervention

Angela K. Fournier 1, Elizabeth A. Letson 1, Thomas D. Berry3, Jennifer Laitala 2, Lauren Proels 1, & Kelli Kavanaugh 1

1Department of Psychology, Bemidji State University
2Eagle Vista Ranch & Wellness Center
3Department of Psychology, Christopher Newport University

This research introduces the anodyne-agent model as a framework for conceptualizing the animal’s role in animal-assisted interventions. The model suggests animals assist interventions aimed at human health and well-being by (a) enhancing positive emotion and decreasing negative emotion, and/or (b) serving as agents in the therapeutic process. An experiment is described to demonstrate the anodyne-agent model. This investigation engaged 45 women and men in a between-groups, posttest-only experiment. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions (i.e., a horse, a dog, or a no-animal control condition). Dependent measures included quantity of human-animal interaction measured with the Human-Animal Interaction Scale, positive and negative emotion measured with the Modified Dimensional Emotions Scale, and psychosocial learning measured via participant qualitative report. Results showed positive emotion was higher following sessions with an animal and correlated with quantity of human-animal interaction. Psychosocial learning differed by condition and was also associated with human-animal interaction. Findings illustrate the utility of the anodyne-agent model. Replication with larger, more diverse samples is warranted.

Keywords: Animal, Animal-Assisted Intervention, Human-Animal Interaction, Anodyne, Agent

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Angela Fournier, PhD, LP, Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Bemidji State University, 1500 Birchmont Dr. NE, Bemidji, MN 56601, 218-755-2530, .

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Posted in 2021, Volume 9, No. 1