This study evaluated pet affinity as a buffer between ambivalence over emotional expression (AEE) and social support. AEE occurs when one desires to express emotions but is reluctant to do so and is related to negative psychological outcomes. Individuals high in AEE may have difficulty receiving social support and thus may not gain accompanying benefits. Social support has been associated with positive health outcomes, and pet support is positively associated with human social support. The present study explores the potential protective effect of pet affinity. One hundred ninety-eight undergraduate dog owners completed measures assessing perceived social support, pet affinity, and AEE. AEE was expected to be negatively associated with social support, and pet affinity was expected to buffer the negative effects of AEE on social support. We found that AEE was negatively associated with perceived social support. An interaction between pet affinity and AEE emerged such that the negative association between AEE and social support was weaker among those higher in pet affinity. Thus, at high levels of AEE, those who felt a close connection with their pets reported more perceived social support than those less connected with their pets. Overall, these findings emphasize the potential benefits of pet affinity.
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