School of Health in Social Science

Research & knowledge exchange projects

Information on our five inter-related research areas & knowledge exchange activities

Animal welfare education

Children sitting around a classroom desk looking at materials
Our work on the development and evaluation of animal welfare and cruelty prevention programmes for children & young people. Much of this work is in collaboration with animal welfare charities, most notably the Scottish SPCA.

Relationships with animals & nature

Photograph of a teenage girl sitting on a river bank looking at ducks
This area of research examines children and adolescents' relationships with animals, attachment to, and care of pets, psychological processes associated with empathy, attitudes & emotion recognition, & children's connectedness with nature.

Childhood cruelty to animals

Girl holding cat that looks uncomfortable
We want to understand why children are cruel to animals. We investigate the psychological and social risk factors, and currently have an innovative research project developed with the Scottish SPCA.

Animal-assisted intervention & therapy

Photograph of a boy with a horse leaning into him
Projects examining the therapeutic benefits of animal-assisted interventions for children and young people, exploring associated outcomes and therapeutic mechanisms, as well as the welfare impact on the animals involved.

Effects of the illegal puppy trade

This was undertaken in collaboration with the Scottish SPCA as part of their campaign to end the illegal puppy trade. Our research revealed the effects of puppy farming, intensive dog breeding regimens, on dog behaviour.

Research & engagement with practitioners

Building on three knowledge exchange and research impact grants, we are currently working on projects with the Scottish SPCA, Blue Cross, Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum), and Fostering Compassion. Dr Janine Muldoon leads this work.