Faculty Speaker Series - Winter 2015

Why Do We Need a Pet? Effects of animals on children's socio-emotional development

Can Fido help your child be more empathetic? Many of us value our pets as sources of comfort, companionship, and protection. But what if it turned out that they were also teaching our children valuable lessons that could help them be better adults? Dr. Maruyama examines the crucial role animals can play in early childhood development and shares her intriguing research findings, which suggest that children learn more than we suspect from animal companions.

“In America, most people own or have owned a pet, but they may not realize that these animals can actually improve your health and well-being—lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, and, in the case of children, strengthening emotional development,” says Dr. Maruyama, who has published numerous articles and book chapters on the topic. “This talk could apply to anyone in the fields of social science, psychology, early childhood education, women’s studies, or nursing, as well as anyone interested in social issues like interpersonal violence and how our pets can help us raise healthy children.”

About Dr. Mika Maruyama

Dr. Mika Maruyama

Dr. Mika Maruyama is a tenure-track professor teaching both general and lifespan psychology at Clark College. A native of Japan, she has studied the psychological relationship between animals and human development in both American and Japanese society as well as social issues including animal cruelty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, and juvenile delinquency. She has contributed to numerous academic journals, handbooks, and textbooks, including Animal Abuse and Developmental Psychopathology (2010, APA Books), Human Development (2008, Wadsworth Publishing), and International Handbook of Theory and Research on Animal Abuse and Cruelty (2008, Purdue University Press). Dr. Maruyama earned her bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and both her master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology from Portland State University. She began teaching at Clark in 2011.