sealPurdue News

April 23, 2002

Purdue robotic pet study seeks children ages 7-14

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University researchers studying the interaction between children and animals are looking for 72 child volunteer participants for a new National Science Foundation investigation of robotic pets.

"Research shows that interaction with animals can increase children's physiological health, social competence and learning opportunities," says Gail Melson, a professor of child development. "We're interested in finding out if the robotic pets that are now widely available have a similar impact."

Melson and co-investigator Alan Beck, a professor of veterinary medicine and director of Purdue's Center for the Human Animal Bond, are gathering information from children ages 7 to 14 and their parents about their experiences with animals. The study has already begun and will continue through the summer.

Participation in the study includes a brief questionnaire for both parent and child. The child will then have an opportunity to interact with both a live dog, which has been certified for working in classrooms and other institutional settings, and a robotic dog. During the session, the child will be asked questions about their views.

The research is being conducted in partnership with the University of Washington.

The sessions take approximately one hour to complete and will be conducted in an observation classroom in the Child Development and Family Studies (CDFS) Building on the West Lafayette campus. Appointments can be set up to accommodate participants' schedules.

Parents who would like to learn more about the study and how their children can participate should contact CDFS administrative assistant Rita Robertson at (765) 494-2945.

CONTACT: Gail F. Melson, (765) 494-2948,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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