Effects of the presence of a pet in the counselor's office on institutionalized and noninstitutionalized adolescents' perception of counselor credibility
Wilbanks, Brenda Joy
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Results of previous studies in the field of pet therapy have indicated that pets may alter people's perception of their environment and even change the way people are perceived by others. The present study investigated the effects of the presence of a pet in the counselor's office on institutionalized and nonmstitutionalized adolescents' perception of counselor credibility, thus combining two areas of research: pet therapy and the interpersonal influence model of counsehng. Subjects were 142 adolescents from three different settings: a juvenile detention center, a residential care faciUty, and a public school. Subjects from each setting were randomly assigned to a pet-present or a pet-absent group. They heard an audiotaped counselor introduction and then viewed photographs of four counselors, either with or without a pet dog at the counselors' side. The study also sought to assess the effects of counselor gender on credibility ratings, since all subjects viewed both male and female counselors. Counselor credibility was measured by the Counselor Rating Form - Short Version. Subjects' attitudes toward pets were also evaluated using the Pet Attitude Scale.