Perceptions of grief severity: how outsiders' perceptions of grieving pets and humans differ

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Jennings, Alexis K.
Lawson, Katie M.
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Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
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An individual grieving a pet has not always been perceived as being a valid experience if at all comparable to grieving humans. Previous survey data has focused on the experiences of pet and human grief separately. This study utilizes a between-subjects design in which participants randomly were assigned to read a vignette about an employee experiencing a pet or human death. Participants pretended to be a manager and approved an employee’s request for time off. before reporting perceptions of the employee’s perceived stress, psychological stress, and bereavement severity. On average, participants allowed less time off for an employee grieving a dog but did not perceive the level of grief to be different between the two conditions; the perceived stress and psychological distress was perceived more severe for human death. Female participants perceived grief higher but otherwise did not differ from males. There was also a positive correlation between one’s own severe grief and the perceptions of another’s.