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Why Do Humans – But Not Other Animals – Keep Pets?

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Hal Herzog
Professor, Western California University
Author, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight about Animals

January 17, 2014

Hal Herzog has been investigating human-animal interactions for over 20 years. His research has included studies of the psychology of animal activism, the moral thinking of cockfighters, the impact of pets on human health, and gender differences in human-animal relationships. Herzog is the author of over 100 scientific articles and book chapters, and he writes the blog Animals and Us for Psychology Today magazine. His book on the psychology of human-animal interactions, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight about Animals, has been translated into eight languages.  In 2013, Herzog was given the ISAZ/IAHAIO Distinguished Scholar Award for his contributions to the study of human-animal relationships.  He is Professor of Psychology at Western Carolina University and lives near Asheville, North Carolina.

Herzog’s discussion focused on the human-specific action of keeping other species as pets, and questioned the lack of any observed long-term interspecific companionships analogous to pet-keeping in non-human animals in completely natural settings. His argument suggested that pet-keeping requires a level of cognitive capacity that is uniquely human.