The proposed model is one where HAI and HHI are interfaced, having implications for the psychology of men and masculinity. However, the bond with animal companions does not guarantee a panacea for males with difficult attachment histories and so certain caveats need to be considered. One involves males that feel a strong sense of kinship with nature and animal companions but still have difficulty transitioning from the rigidity of traditional male roles and ideology.
Will males of various ages be able to enact masculine role norms in
resorts, car dealerships that sale SUV’s, etc. Within these examples are aspects of some of the traditional male ideology that
However, we are also suggesting that those experiencing a positive generalization of attitudes and behaviors regarding HAI and HHI may need to seek new solutions through a change in dysfunctional male gender role schemata. Could it be the case that a subpopulation of men who value the bond with animal companions also becomes a type of ecowarrior on the behalf of pets and animal companions? This may manifest itself on one hand as rescuing stray dogs or standing up for their rights on various cultural levels.
On the other, it may involve utilizing the ‘leader of the wolf pack’ mentality that has become erroneously associated with proper dog training. The metaphor has perspective traditional male gender roles embedded within as one assumes the role of
within our proposed model as wrestling with new solutions for both HAI and HHI.
It should be noted the intersection of attachment and gender roles expectations make for a difficult personal and societal transformation. For men, rethinking core masculine beliefs is something profoundly personal and an impetus to do so involves events and encounters that are highly significant and
Placing prior research findings regarding gender and HAI in proper perspective also leads us to the following conclusion: seeking to compare the average male versus female on levels of attachment and/or loss regarding
In fact, we can lose contextual meaning by prioritizing those types of research studies. Instead, the context of how attachment and loss are both reported and underreported, as well as, their meaning in men’s lives is more a viable avenue.
Another example of a future line of inquiry is based on findings that suggest men that enact traditional gender roles seem to have smaller social support networks (Barbee et al. 1993), and how middle-aged males turn to their animal companions as a significant source of emotional soothing when under duress (Kurdek 2009).
In these types of scenarios, it is important to understand if there are real
cohort differences in the ways males turn to animal companions for soothing. It may also be the case that there is a cumulative effect of negative life experiences due to failed attachments with human companions. It would seem reasonable that after so many failed attempts on the part of attachment challenged males, that an animal companion seems like a viable and secure form of emotional bonding.
However, stating again that the power of the bond is not limited to males with difficult upbringings or have experienced some form of loss or trauma. Future research should also focus on how males that have found satisfaction in work and love may find very similar levels of meaning, purpose, and transcendence due in part to the animal bond.
Each potential trajectory of our proposed model, whether it involves transcendence, existential meaning, or various forms of advocacy, all
As mentioned previously, traditional male ideology emphasizes a strictly go-it-alone
with another in a meaningful way.
In these circumstances the two dynamics of self and being in
That is, males feel less threatened of losing their identities within this connection. It is also paramount to understand more about how men
Both self-report measures and qualitative research need to be pursued by interviewers that are culturally sensitive to male contextual dynamics. Acknowledging publically there is an emotional reliance upon a companion cuts against much of traditional male socialization, and so does
felt but often unspoken meaning(s) regarding the bond with animal companions needs to be uncovered in forthcoming studies.
Another aspect of the needed work involves ways to measure the various variables in the proposed model. This may include an instrument that assesses both HAI and HHI simultaneously. While there have been various attempts to restructure measures from one content area to another (e.g., attachment strength and style for people and then applied to pets), to date there
New measures may include elements of attachment strength to human and animal companions, as well as, purported behaviors. Our model attempts to offer an initial way to contextually conceptualize and operationalize elements of male gender roles, attachment history, and HAI.
Moving the field in this direction expands the
honor those connections by exploring them with scientific rigor, all the while not losing sight of their emotional