Title page for ETD etd-04252005-143231

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Fournier, Angela Krom
Author's Email Address akrom@vt.edu
URN etd-04252005-143231
Title An Investigation of the Psychosocial Impact of Human-Animal Interaction on a Forensic Population
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Geller, E. Scott Committee Chair
Cooper, Lee D. Committee Member
Finney, Jack W. Committee Member
Suthers-McCabe, H. Marie Committee Member
Winett, Richard A. Committee Member
  • animal-assisted therapy
  • human-animal interaction
Date of Defense 2005-04-21
Availability unrestricted
This quasi-experimental field study tested the psychosocial effects of a forensic human-animal interaction (HAI) program on prison inmates. The study assessed the impact of the HAI program using both between-subject and within-subject methods and analyses. A total of 54 male inmates participated in the research by completing self-report measures, keeping journals, and allowing researchers access to their institutional files. In general, it was hypothesized the HAI program would result in positive psychosocial outcomes for inmates. Dependent measures included inmate self-reported treatment level within the prison’s therapeutic community, frequency of institutional infractions, and scores from self-report measures assessing social skills, inmate perception of the prison environment, optimism, mood disturbance, and HAI. Between-subject analyses compared a sample of the participants (n = 48) in a pretest-posttest repeated-measures design, comparing a Treatment group of participants in the HAI program with a Control group of participants on the waiting list for the program. Results indicated that the HAI program was associated with increased treatment progress in the therapeutic community, improvement or maintenance of social sensitivity, and improved scores on a measure of transient depressed mood. Hypotheses regarding institutional infractions, perceptions of the prison environment, and optimism were not supported. The within-subject portion of the research consisted of evaluating the relationship between daily HAI and mood with a smaller group of participants (n = 6) who completed journals in a single-subject repeated-measures fashion. Results suggested mood was differentially related to HAI for Treatment and Control group participants. Findings are discussed in relation to proximal versus distal outcomes of HAI and suggestions are made for future research.
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