Love, fear, and the human-animal bond: On adversity and multispecies relationships

Jennifer W. Applebaum, Evan L. MacLean, Shelby E. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Love and strong social bonds are known buffers in the experience of adversity. Humans often form strong bonds with non-human animals. The human-animal bond refers to a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between humans and non-human animals. Previous research suggests that strong bonds with pets may promote resilience in the experience of adversity, but a strong bond with a pet can also complicate this very experience of adversity, particularly among low-resourced and disadvantaged populations. What is the role of the human-animal bond in adversity, and what is the role of adversity in the bond between a human and a non-human animal? In this article we outline the state of research on the role of various types and sources of adversities in multispecies households (i.e., families, relationships) to consider this overarching question. We focus specifically on intimate partner violence, housing discrimination, LGBTQ+ identity-based discrimination, racism, neighborhood disadvantage, and economic inequality. We then outline an agenda for future research about love, adversity, and multispecies relationships, and discuss implications for public policy and community-based interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100071
JournalComprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Adversity
  • Companion animals
  • Human-animal bond
  • Human-animal interaction
  • Multispecies families
  • Pets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology


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