Testing the Psychometric Properties of the Pet Attachment and Life Impact Scale (PALS) Among a Sample of Sexual and Gender Minority Emerging Adults

Camie A. Tomlinson1; Angela Matijczak1;Sarah K. Pittman2; An Pham3; Shelby E. McDonald4

1 School of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University
2 Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University
3 Children’s Hospital of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University
4 Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, Virginia Commonwealth University

There has been increased research attention on the benefits associated with attachment bonds between humans and their companion animals, such as for human physical health, mental health, and overall quality of life. However, there is a lack of human-animal attachment measures that have been psychometrically evaluated across diverse samples. The current study addressed this gap by testing the psychometric properties of the Pet Attachment and Life Impact Scale (PALS). Our sample included 154 sexual and gender minority emerging adults who had lived with a dog and/or cat in the past year and responded to the PALS regarding a dog or cat (Mage = 19.34 years, SDage = 1.12 years; 37% racial/ethnic minority; 50% gender minority; 98.7% sexual minority). We collapsed the lowest three response options due to low endorsement; to conduct invariance testing, items 11, 20, 28, and 37 were deleted due to high correlations between items. Confirmatory factor analyses found that a modified three-factor model, excluding the Negative Impact items, fit our data best. We found support for strong measurement invariance across gender modality, racial/ethnic majority vs. minoritized groups, participation prior to or after the COVID-19 pandemic onset, and pet type groups. All three PALS factors (Love, Regulation, Personal Growth) were correlated with human social support from friends, and the Love factor was positively associated with emotional comfort from pets, providing evidence of construct validity. Given the potential role of attachment bonds with companion animals in promoting human health and wellbeing, future research should continue to evaluate the psychometric properties of the PALS and measurement equivalence across a broader range of demographic groups to ensure meaningful interpretation of pet attachment scores.

Keywords: human-animal bond, human-animal interaction, attachment, LGBTQ, measurement

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Keywords: attachment, human-animal bond, human-animal interaction, LGBTQ, Measurement
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