Murray State Theses and Dissertations


Service animals and emotional support animals are gaining a greater presence in many public spaces. The purpose of the following study is to explore attitudes towards service animals and emotional support animals in a more rigorous fashion than previous research and to explore possible predictors of people’s attitudes towards service animals and emotional support animals. Specifically, this study examined the following predictors: public and self-stigma against mental health, ableism, and attitudes towards pets or pet ownership. Data was collected utilizing an online survey distributed to an online general population sample (n = 105). A measure of attitudes towards service animals and emotional support animals, the Acceptability of Assistance Animals Questionnaire, was developed and tested for this study. The strong reliability and validity of the AAAQ suggest it is a more reliable and valid measure than the previously developed measures (Schoenfeld-Tacher et al., 2017). Higher public stigma predicted attitudes towards service animals, but self-stigma did not. A more favorable attitude towards pets predicted more acceptance of ESAs. These results suggest that lowering public stigma against mental illness may assist in improving attitudes towards service animals in the public spaces they are legally allowed to access. Implications for future research and measurement development are discussed.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Service animals, Emotional Support Animals, Mental Health Stigma, Ableism, Assistance Animals

Committee Chair

Michael Bordieri

Committee Member

Jana Hackathorn

Committee Member

Amanda Joyce

Committee Member

Angie Trzepacz

Document Type


Included in

Psychology Commons