Running head: visual effects on mood and gender 1 Essay

Running head: visual effects on mood and gender 1

Effects of visual stimuli on gender 8

The Effects of Dog Pictures on Mood and Gender

Genesis Vasquez

California State University, Long Beach

The Effects of Dog Pictures on Mood and Gender

Mans best friend has always been an animal that has brought comfort and warm feelings to anyone who might own one. Dogs are introduced to some individuals at young ages and grow up with them through time and aid in their development phases which in the future help their health and well-being (Purewal, Christley, Kordas, Joinson, Meints, Gee & Westgarth, 2017). In a review of 22 studies it was found that there are indeed beneficial aspects of owning a pet that could help college students, this includes higher cognition that attributes to higher educational outcomes (Purewal, Christley, Kordas, Joinson, Meints, Gee & Westgarth, 2017). Others might only see them occasionally because they aren’t allowed to have pets at home. Unless you don’t like dogs or animals in general, seeing a dog is a very pleasurable and exciting experience for most of us. Research suggests that there are indeed benefits to being in the physical presence of dogs as well as owning one. There is also data suggesting that positive However there is no clear answer as to whether or not simply seeing a picture of a dog could illicit positive mood responses and if that increase in mood can aid in test performance. Seeing if there is indeed a positive relationship could possibly in the future help people before tests

There has been a lot of research concerning therapy dogs and their benefits on students. These benefits include reduced stress levels, increase in hormones that influence one’s happiness which aid students in test taking. However, for this current study there didn’t seem to be any information regarding whether or not pictures of dogs can illicit similar effects. Visual stimuli experiments have been conducted but none have been done simply using images of dogs. The experiment they used had various pictures that evoked feelings of either unpleasantness or pleasantness (Kemp, Silberstein, Armstrong, & Nathan, 2004). This study studied brain electrical activity when participants were shown images that induced either pleasant or unpleasant emotions. They looked at the data by looking whether there were any gender differences. They believed that males would be affected more than females during the processing of pleasant and unpleasant images (Kemp, Silberstein, Armstrong, & Nathan, 2004). Looking at this study from a more neurochemical point of view, the interactions of even an image can illicit increased hormones that include, oxytocin, dopamine and prolactin (Odendaal & Meintjes, 2003). In the study, 25 of the 75 images were pleasant images, and of those images actually included puppies. Another reason for me to believe that their will be a positive correlation between both genders is that generally humans are predispositioned to like things with infant like features. Its important to understand that there is data that says positive images can induce positive emotions in a person which will help the current study by providing background information that is relevant.

Stress will always be a common health risk among college students, the negative effects cause a decrease in physical and psychological health (Fiocco & Hunse, 2017). This is especially prevalent in undergraduate students. This stress is also followed by increased blood pressure which was used by another study who also studied the effects of dog exposure. Again, therapy dogs are at times brought to universities to help students deal with stress. In the study conducted by Fiocco and Hunse (2017) they examine whether the effects of interacting with a therapy dog stay to help with a future stressor such as a test. They used 61 university students to try and answer this question. After going through the data from the group who was given the test, there was a large effect at the physiological level which the ANCOVA found. While there were no significant interactions of pet attitude within the group, another study did show positive results. The study that showed positive results didn’t use therapy dogs, instead they used regular dogs that belonged to the researchers. To see if students had reduced levels of stress after engaging with untrained dogs, they all had their blood pressures taken before they were examined as well as after (McDonald, Mcdonald E., & Roberts, 2017). This study was conducted to see if untrained dogs could provide similar benefits as trained dogs. This was tested by having both a control group that was not exposed to the dog and the experimental group which engaged with the dog for 15 minutes. Results at the end of the study indicated a decrease in blood pressure in those who were exposed to the dog prior to the exam. Those who were in the control group had increased blood pressure. When looking at the results there was a major difference. This study helped me in solidifying my knowledge to help me in coming up with my research question.

The point of my study is to see if simply using pictures of dogs could help in reducing the stress of college students. Some colleges cannot simply afford to bring in therapy dogs and some students look for simple ways they could help themselves before a test. Everyone wants to do well but the stresses of test taking, and anxiety usually kick in before the exam even begins thus lowering their chances of doing well. I believe that my experiment is the next step in finding alternative methods to reducing stress that doesn’t involve the presence of a therapy dog. Although my study is not including real dogs, a factor that these studies failed to look at which what is I based my research question on is that they did not consider if pictures of dogs alone could bring somewhat similar affects as actual dogs. Although we will not be able to get the exact scores because its not a real dog which people love, I hope to at least get positive results that will lead people to open up their phone before a test and look at some pictures of puppies, reduce some stress, get into a better mood and have a higher chance of getting a good score no matter the amount. In college, every bit counts to undergraduate students.

The current study is going to be conducted for the purpose of seeing whether pictures of dogs have an affect on mood and gender. I hypothesize that the images will have a stronger affect on the mood of females which will result in higher test scores than the males.



The participants needed for this study include females and males. They must also be undergraduate students from California State University, Long Beach. No specific demographic or age is needed for the current study. I will be recruiting these participants from the lab sections of my research methods class.


PowerPoint will be used and will have the 10-15 pictures of puppies on it which will be shown to the groups. The mood test will consist of 10 questions that will ask them how they felt about the pictures they saw. They will be general mood questions ranging from are you happy after seeing those pictures or angry. It will be based on a 5-point scale with 1 being least and 5 being the most. They will then be given a 15-question general knowledge test which will be assessed after all participants have completed it. These questions will include psychology questions, and general knowledge questions. Scores will be aggregated through averaging the total scores of both genders as well as the control group. Data recording sheets will also be needed to look at the data between both groups.


The experiment will be an in-person design during the lab portion of my research methods class. I will observe all who participate. Participants are going to be separated into 2 groups which will have an equal amount of both females and males. The two genders will take all tests and examinations at the same time. The first group will be the control group and the second will be the experimental group. The control group will not be given the pictures of puppies to look at, they will instead be given the mood test on Qualtrics which they will have 10 minutes to complete. The performance test will than be given right after which will also be through Qualtrics. They will be given 10 minutes to complete the test. Once all participants in the control group have finished, they will be escorted out and the experimental group will be allowed in. They will then be given the 15 pictures of puppies to look at which will go by at an interval of 5 seconds. After all of the pictures have been scrolled through, everyone in the experimental group will be given the mood test which they will need to complete in 15 minutes. Once they complete that they will be given the performance test. 20 minutes will be given to complete the task. Once all the data has been collected, I will average out the scores between the genders in both the control group and experimental group to see if there is a

Analytic Plan:

I will be using correlational analyses to see if there is a relationship between gender and mood when given pictures of dogs to look at.


[bookmark: _Hlk801406] Fiocco, A. J., & Hunse, A. M. (2017). The buffer effect of therapy dog exposure on stress reactivity in undergraduate students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(7) doi: 10.3390/ijerph14070707

Kemp, A.H., Silberstein, R.B., Armstrong, S.M., & Nathan, P.J. (2004). Gender differences in the

cortical electrophysiological processing of visual emotional stimuli. Neuroimage, 21(2), 632-646. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2003.09.055

McDonald, S., McDonald, E., & Roberts, A. (2017). Effects of novel dog exposure on college students' stress prior to examination. North American Journal of Psychology, 19(2), 477-484. Retrieved from

Odendaal, J.S.J, & Meintjes, R.A. (2003). Neurophysiological correlates of affiliative

behaviour between humans and dogs. The Veterinary Journal, 165(3), 296-301. doi: 10.1016/S1090-0233(02)00237-X

Purewal, R., Christley, R., Kordas, K., Joinson, C., Meints, K., Gee, N., & Westgarth, C. (2017).

Companion animals and child/adolescent development: A systematic review of the evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(3), doi: 10.3390/ijerph14030234

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