Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Child-animal interaction: Examining social behaviors"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Spring 2015 - DURI
Research area(s):
Psychological Science, Child Development, Animal Behavior, Human-Animal Interaction, Education
Project Description:
The project will be hosted by the Center for the Human-Animal Bond and the Center for Animal Welfare Science. The goal of our research is to evaluate the effects of interacting with animals and toys on child social development. Animals may include dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and horses. Toys include a range of age-appropriate enrichment items. Children include those with autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and typically-developing children. The primary project will focus on coding previously video-recorded interactions. A secondary project will focus on the development of an online survey and preparation for upcoming data collection.
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern will learn a behavioral coding system and code video-recorded interactions between children and animals, as well as other stimuli such as toys. The coding system focuses on social behaviors and problem behaviors among children. The intern will also assist with preparation of an online survey for a study of children with autism and their preferences for different animal species. The bulk of the research will involve coding and study preparation; however, there may be opportunities for hands-on work with animals and children if the student demonstrates interest and suitability.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
Prior experience with behavioral coding is preferred but not required. Attention to detail, conscientiousness, and dedication are more important. Other skills may include: online survey design, data entry, database management, participant recruitment, or other research experience.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

O'haire, Maggie
Veterinary Medicine

Student Supervisor

Maggie O'Haire
Assistant Professor

Cooperating Faculty

Matthew Brodhead