Date of Award
Zoo and Conservation Science-BS
Dr. Noam Shpancer
First Committee Member
Dr. Noam Shpancer
Second Committee Member
Dr. Anna Young
Third Committee Member
Dr. Deborah Soloman
Emotional Support Animals, Mental Health, College Students, Therapy
Clinical Psychology | Counseling Psychology | Higher Education | Other Animal Sciences | Psychology
Mental health problems have been drastically increasing in recent years among college students. Alongside the rising prevalence of psychological distress, universities have also experienced an increase in requests to have Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) live on campus. To date however, data are scarce on students’ experiences living with and around ESAs. The present study aims to investigate attitudes and perceptions about ESAs, in both owners of ESAs as well as students who do not own an ESA but have interacted with one. Specifically, owners were interviewed to find whether the perceived benefits of owning an ESA outweigh the associated costs and non-owners were surveyed about how they regard the experience of encountering and living alongside ESAs and to gauge their interest in an animal therapy program on campus. Interestingly, all owners reported that the benefits of owning an ESA outweigh any associated cost. Results also indicated that an overwhelming majority of non-owners have positive attitudes and perceptions about ESAs on campus, including in an animal therapy program. These results highlight possible techniques universities can utilize to support students' mental health, whether through ESA ownership or animal programs.
Street, Sidney, "Emotional Support Animals for College Students: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?" (2021). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects. 130.