Ep 157: Do Pets and Religion Make You Happier?

MichaelEmotion1 Comment

You hear a lot these days about how pets make us happy. This is called the “pet effect“. But is it so? The answer appears to be a qualified yes. But in what ways do pets make us happy? How strong is their effect on our lives? Also, how about religion? We also hear that religious people are happier, but is this true everywhere in the US or everywhere in the world? Why does religion make us happy and in what societies are people likely to benefit from this “religion effect“? Finally, some helpful advice on getting into grad school.


  • Diener, E., Tay, L. & Myers, D.G. (in press). The religion paradox: If religion makes people happy, why are so many dropping out? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
  • Herzog, H. (2011). The Impact of Pets on Human Health and Psychological Well-Being: Fact, Fiction, or Hypothesis? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(4) 236–239.
  • Fido’s No Doctor. Neither Is Whiskers.
  • Related episode on the topic of what makes you happy and the effects of the message that all religions give us about the power of giving to others: Is it Better to Give Than to Receive?


One thing that I learned during the application process is that closeness of fit between the applicant’s research interests/experience and the faculty is something that admission panels take into great consideration. Almost every school I applied to asked for specific faculty names/labs I would be interested in working with/in. I did a lot of research on specific faculty members before applying and even contacted them directly to get more information about their lab and work- then I worked into my personal statement how I would be a good fit for that specific lab or to work with that professor. It’s important to remember that most applicants (sometimes hundred’s for 3-4 spots for funded clinical programs) have top GPA’s, great GRE scores, and some research experience, so schools are going to really look at who is the best fit for their program.

Also, if there is a specific professor you are interested in working with I would suggest contacting the school, website, or the professor directly to inquire if they are taking on another student. You can save yourself a lot of time and money in application fees this way. I picked up a copy of APA’s ‘Getting In’ and found that helpful as far as the logistics and timeline of the process (it’s about a year process). I also contacted current students of the programs I was interested in and spoke to them over the phone. They were very helpful and gave a realistic picture of the program and what their day to day is like. If you want to reach out to others going through the process (biting their nails waiting for interview invites) you can check out the student doctor forum.

Link to the Student Doctor Forum – Allison


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