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Woman's Best Friend: Teachers be forewarned: A student traipsing into class on test day with the family dog in tow may have an advantage over the others in the room. That at least seems to be the conclusion of a new study by psychologist Karen Allen and her colleagues at State University of New York at Buffalo. With support from the National Institutes of Health, Allen and her team asked 45 young women to perform a number of stressful math tasks in three different situations: alone with a researcher, with their best friend sitting nearby, and with their dog present. The researchers found that when the dog was close by, the subjects scored far higher and could complete the math task more effectively than in the other situations. The team also measured indicators of stress, such as pulse rate. On average, the subjects' pulse stayed at a normal 70 per minute when the dog was present, rose to 100 with only the researcher in attendance, and shot up to 130 when the best friend sat in. The researchers hypothesize that a friend, no matter how supportive, is perceived as judgmental and critical. Dogs, on the other hand, give unconditional love and create a worry-free environment that makes problem solving easier. On test days, it seems, a dog is a woman's best friend.

Vol. 04, Issue 01, Page 13

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