PC Magazine has an article today about a study by the Centre for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University’s veterinary school that has concluded that the benefits of having a robot pet are similar to those that come from real pets. It has long been known that human-pet interaction is good for maintaining physiological health and low stress levels. Children with pets usually have better social skills and are better learners than those without. Lead researcher Gail Melson has determined that a robot pet, in this case a Sony Aibo, makes an acceptable substitute for the real thing.
During the study several children were given Aibos to take care of while the others who participated had living pets of their own. When questioned by the researchers, over 70% of the children with the Aibos indicated they believed the robot offered good companionship. Aibos were also provided to nursing home residents who showed the same improvements that occur during time spent with living animals including decreased loneliness and depression and increased activity.