The State of Assessment in Human-Animal Interaction Research

Kerri E. Rodriguez1, Noémie A. Guérin1, Robin L. Gabriels2, James A. Serpell3, Pamela J. Schreiner4, & Marguerite E. O’Haire1
1 Center for the Human-Animal Bond, Department of Comparative Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, IN, USA,
2 Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, CO, USA,
3 Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, Department of Clinical Sciences & Advanced Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, PA, USA, &
4 Center to Study Human-Animal Relationships and Environments, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, MN, USA

There is a growing body of research in human-animal interaction (HAI), but the field is often criticized for its lack of methodological rigor and heterogeneous outcome assessment. In addition, there is a scarcity of valid and reliable assessment tools specific to measuring constructs directly related to HAI. As the field continues to develop, there is a critical need for the consistent use of standardized, well-validated, and appropriate assessment tools. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of the state of assessment in HAI while identifying current needs for method standardization, development, or refinement. Specifically, we review in detail the use of (1) questionnaires, (2) physiological measures, and (3) behavior assessment tools in the field of HAI while offering examples of successful application, describing methodological limitations, and providing recommendations for use in HAI research.

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