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送交者: 牛员外[♂★★★★健身房行走★★★★♂] 于 2019-04-12 4:43 已读 1114 次  





Last year, over 73 million households in Chinese cities were also home to a pet. [Photo/pixabay.com]

In 2018, the General Social Survey for the first time included a
battery of questions on pet ownership. The findings not only quantified
the nation’s pet population — nearly 6 in 10 households have at least
one —they made it possible to see how pet ownership overlaps with all
sorts of factors of interest to social scientists.


a battery of:一连串,一系列


Like happiness.


For starters, there is little difference between pet owners and
non-owners when it comes to happiness, the survey shows. The two groups
are statistically indistinguishable on the likelihood of identifying as
“very happy” (a little over 30 percent) or “not too happy” (in the


But when you break the data down by pet type — cats, dogs or both — a
stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat
owners to say they’re very happy, with people owning both falling
somewhere in between.


Dog people, in other words, are slightly happier than those without
any pets. Those in the cat camp, on the other hand, are significantly
less happy than the pet-less. And having both appears to cancel each
other out happiness-wise.



Alipay, a major mobile payment platform, launches a new service to
help stray pets find their way back home, Jan 22, 2019. [Photo/Official
Weibo account of Alipay]

These differences are quite large: The happiness divide between dog
and cat owners is bigger than the one between people who identify as
middle and upper class, and nearly as large as the gap between those who
say they’re in “fair” versus “good or excellent” health.


However, correlation doesn’t equal causation, and there are probably a
number of other differences between dog and cat owners that account for
some of the differences. The General Social Survey data show that dog
owners, for instance, are more likely to be married and own their own
homes than cat owners, both factors known to affect happiness and life


causation [k??'ze??(?)n]:n.原因;因果关系

Previous research on this topic yielded mixed results. In 2006, the
Pew Research Center found no significant differences in happiness
between pet owners and non-pet owners, or cat and dog owners. However,
that survey did not distinguish between people who owned “only” a dog or
a cat, and those who owned “either” a dog or a cat, potentially
muddying the distinctions between exclusive dog and cat owners.


A 2016 study of dog and cat owners, on the other hand, yielded
greater happiness ratings for dog owners relative to cat people. It
attributed the contrast, at least in part, to differences in
personality: Dog owners tended to be more agreeable, more extroverted
and less neurotic than cat owners. And a 2015 study linked the presence
of a cat in the home to fewer negative emotions, but not necessarily an
increase in positive ones.


neurotic [nj??'r?t?k]:adj.神经过敏的;神经病的


Three stray cats wander at the Wofo Temple in Beijing, Feb 26, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Other research makes the case that some of the pet-happiness
relationship is causal, at least when it comes to canines. A 2013 study
found, for instance, that dog owners are more likely to engage in
outdoor physical activity than people who don’t own dogs, with obvious
benefits for health and happiness.


Research also has shown that dog owners are more likely than other
folks to form friendships with people in their neighborhoods on the
basis of the random encounters that happen when they’re out walking
their pets. Those social connections likely contribute to greater
well-being among dog owners.


The General Social Survey also asked a number of questions about how
people interact with their pets, and the answers may also explain some
of the happiness gap. Dog owners, for instance, are more likely to seek
comfort from their pet in times of stress, more likely to play with
their pet, and more likely to consider their pet a member of their
family. Those differences suggest a stronger social bond with their
pets, which could create a greater sense of well-being.


Stepping away from the data, cat owners might protest that ownership
isn’t about “happiness” at all: There’s something about felines that is
grander and more mysterious — something that can’t be captured in a
public opinion poll.


“A cat has absolute emotional honesty,” as Ernest Hemingway put it.
“Human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a
cat does not.”


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