Qualitative Directions in Human–Animal Companion Research



Researcher inquiries into topics such as animal welfare, animal affect, and human experiences of the human–animal bond have historically been rooted in positivist epistemologies and reliant on quantitative measures and experiments, rather than naturalistic observations and individual experiences (Fraser, 2009). In this chapter, I target several topic areas within human–animal and animal research to explore the existence and benefits of qualitative research approaches. I begin with an overview of qualitative research with humans, including the benefits of using qualitative research to explore topics such as understanding perspectives on animal abuse and neglect, human–animal companionship, grief and loss issues, and the benefits of animal-assisted therapy. Following this, I explore qualitative research endeavors into the subjective experiences of animals (e.g., Minero, Tosi, Canali, & Wemelsfelder, 2009), as well as methodological relations between quantitative behavioral observations and qualitative categories of animal affect, welfare, and experience (e.g., Wemelsfelder, Hunter, Mendl, & Lawrence, 2001). I conclude with an overview of the challenges to using qualitative methods, evaluative criteria specific to qualitative research on human–animal connections, and ethical considerations for both animal and human–animal qualitative inquiry.


Qualitative Research Animal Welfare Animal Behavior Qualitative Researcher Evaluative Criterion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Deborah Olson, Ph.D., for thoughtful and very helpful comments on an earlier version of this chapter.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tennessee State UniversityNashvilleUSA

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