Psychological and Behavioral Predictors of Taking Pet Companions When Traveling

Article excerpt

Although the importance of animal companions for their owners has been investigated (Aylesworth, Chapman, & Dobscha, 1999), and it has been established that pets are becoming increasingly important and that owners are spending more and more on them (Ridgway, Kukar-Kinney, Monroe, & Chamberlin, 2008), the question remains of whether it is more likely that animal companions change their owner's lifestyle or vice versa. Using the theory of planned behavior (TPB; Ajzen, 1991); characteristics of self-monitoring, and scales assessing the owner-pet relationship, in this investigation we shed new light on how and why owners decide whether or not to take their pets with them when traveling for leisure purposes.

Keywords: leisure travel, animal companionship, self-monitoring, theory of planned behavior.

Although there have been studies in which the pet-owner relationship has been explored (Aylesworth, Chapman, & Dobscha, 1999), and the increasing amounts of money that owners spend on their pets has been examined (Ridgway, Kukar-Kinney, Monroe, & Chamberlin, 2008), gaps in the literature persist in the debate about whether human owners make their pets fit their way of Ufe (BeIk, 1996) or if owners change their lifestyle to work around the requirements of their animal companions (Harker, Collis, & McNicholas, 2000). In order to explore these aspects of pet ownership, in this research we used travel as a context for identifying the variables associated with owners' decisions about whether or not to take their pets with them when traveling. Traveling together for leisure demonstrates a degree of intimacy in pet-owner relationships (Poresky, Hendrix, Mosier, & Samuelson, 1987). However, traveling with pets can be more complicated than traveling with humans as there are additional issues that owners must prepare for, such as how and where dogs can exercise and socialize when traveling (Miller & Howell, 2008). Despite this, compared to previous years, owners today are more likely to take pets with them when traveling.

METHOD

To examine the predictors of owners taking their pets with them while traveling, the theory of planned behavior (TPB; Ajzen, 1991), characteristics of selfmonitoring (John, Cheek, & Klohnen, 1996), and the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (Johnson, Garrity, & Stallones, 1992), the Pet Attitude Scale (Templer, Salter, Dickey, Baldwin, & Veleber, 1981), the Pet Attachment Survey (Albert & Bulcroft, 1988), and the Companion Animal Bonding Scale (Poresky et al., 1987) were used to formulate a survey. The theory of planned behavior has been widely used in research on leisure activities because a significant number of people plan these activities ahead of time (March & Woodside, 2005). Based on Ajzen's (1991) proposition, an individual's behavior intention will be affected by his/her attitude in relation to the activity, the kind of support he or she gets from his/ her social network (subjective norm), and the individual's self-perceived ability to overcome some of the difficulties involved (perceived behavioral control). To gather data, 238 Taiwanese pet owners were surveyed via convenience sampling. Among them, 66% of the respondents were single females who were the primary owner who made the decision on what pets to buy and who was the person that cared for them. The majority of the participants were aged between 20 and 39 (73.5%). Students made up 29% of the sample and another 29.4% were in the service sector. There were 56.3% who had a university degree; 75.2% owned one pet and the rest (24.8%) owned two or more pets. The scale utilized in the current study to measure characteristics of high self-monitoring was originally developed by John et al. (1996) and has 13 criteria and three categories. In our study 10 items with loadings of .61 or greater were retained after principal components analysis was performed. From the scales on the owner-pet relationship, 17 items translated into three factors (attachment, interaction, anthropomorphism) which accounted for 67. …

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