Picture this scenario: you are walking to class, thinking about how you can manage your time today to not only fit in studying for a test you have in two days, but also a paper that is due by the end of the week. It stresses you out and then you see it. . . a labrador retriever puppy. You take a break from stressing out to play with the dog. Suddenly, everything does not seem so bad and you continue your day with a more positive and healthier state of mind. This scenario that I have created is one that I have experienced more than once. This same sense of relief that I experience when I encounter a dog on my way to class is reportedly experienced by first-year college students who feel homesick.
In order to determine whether or not there is a positive causal relationship between first-year college students who are homesick and interact with dogs, Dr. John Tyler Binfet conducted an experimental study. In this study, a total group of 44 first-year college students who felt homesick were randomly split into two groups: a control group and an experimental group. The null hypothesis of this experiment is that there would be no difference between the experimental group and the control group. On the contrary, the alternative hypothesis is that there would be a significant difference between the control group and the experimental group as the experimental group is expected to be positively impacted with the weekly interaction of puppies and the control group’s homesickness should continue to worsen. The experimental group attended eight weekly 45 minute sessions in which they interacted with dogs. At the conclusion of the eight week study, the experimental group stated that they were significantly more satisfied with their college experience having interacted with the dogs weekly. On the contrary, the control group continued to become even more homesick.
To conclude, the alternative hypothesis proved to be correct as there was a significant difference between the experimental group and the control group. The experimental groups’ positive reaction to the weekly interactions with puppies can serve as a reliable example about how to remedy homesickness, but does not necessarily serve as a “cure” being that this experiment was done using only 44 volunteers in total. In addition, not all people like dogs so this remedy will not act as a panacea for all first-year college students experiencing homesickness. With this being said, homesick or not, I would love to have weekly interactions with dogs just to relieve stress!