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More Reasons To Love Dogs: They Promote Prosocial Behaviors and They Attract the Ladies.

Dogs augment prosocial behaviors and serve as “chick magnets.”

Some of you might remember one of my earliest posts (see here) wherein I discussed some fascinating studies that had uncovered a resemblance between dogs and their owners. In today's post, I return to the canine topic albeit I'll be exploring the folk beliefs that dogs can be used by men to attract women (a theme that was alluded to in the context of a blind date in the 2005 move Must Love Dogs, starring John Cusack and Diane Lane), as well as serving as social lubricants.

Nicolas Guégen, whose work I have covered in several of my earlier posts (see here and here), conducted four studies (with Serge Ciccotti) to investigate whether the presence of a dog might increase the likelihood of people obliging one of several requests. In the first experiment, a male confederate (with or without a dog) asked people for money to catch a bus. In the second experiment, the same procedure was carried out except that a female confederate was used. In the third experiment, the same male confederate as used in study 1, "accidentally" dropped some money at a bus shelter (with or without a dog), and verified the proportion of people who would help him pick up the money. In the fourth and final experiment, an attractive male confederate (with or without a dog) approached women and asked for their phone numbers.

Here are the key results:

Study 1:

Compliance rate: 9/80 in the no-dog condition versus 28/80 in the dog condition (p < 0.001)

Amount donated: $0.26 in the no-dog condition versus $0.31 in the dog condition (p < 0.05)

Study 2:

Compliance rate: 26/100 in the no-dog condition versus 51/100 in the dog condition (p < 0.001)

Amount donated: $0.31 in the no-dog condition versus $0.47 in the dog condition (p = 0.02)

Study 3:

Compliance rate: 23/40 in the no-dog condition versus 35/40 in the dog condition (p < 0.005)

Study 4:

Compliance rate: 11/120 in the no-dog condition versus 34/120 in the dog condition (p < 0.001)

This is an astonishing finding: a man's likelihood of obtaining a woman's phone number increases three-fold when accompanied by a dog! I have two dogs...but I am coupled. Damn!

Incidentally, the "dog effect" is operative for both male and female participants (across the first three studies) albeit in one instance (study 2) men complied more frequently to the request across the two experimental conditions.

Announcement: This is my 101st post since joining as a Psychology Today blogger in November 2008. As I type these words, my first 100 posts have just surpassed 500,000 views. I thank all of the readers who have helped in making my blog a popular destination. Next target: 1,000,000 hits!

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