Human–Pet Dynamics in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Anthrozoös Vol/Iss. 24 Taylor and Francis Ltd Published In Pages: 17-30
By Gray, Peter B., Young, Sharon M.


Using a sample of 60 societies from eHRAF, this study explores the cross-cultural commonalities and differences in human-pet dynamics. The authors focus on understanding the range of functions of pets and the positive or negative treatment of pets. In addition, they test whether human investment in pets is a significant challenge of evolutionary theory. First, the results support that there are distinct functions of pets, challenging the common view of contemporary function of pets as emotional surrogates. Secondly, the data collected show an ambivalent treatment of pets across cultures, including small-scale societies. Finally, the research does not support the idea that human investment in pets sacrifices their reproductive success.


Dogs and cats often did not meet the criteria to qualify as “pets”, according to the definition given by the authors. However, the data was still included since both animals were usually present in the sample.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
eHRAF World CulturesResearcher's ownThe sample includes hunter-gatherers, horticulturalists, pastoralists, and other kinds of subsistence types.

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