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Washington State University

Patricia Pendry

Patricia Pendry

Professor Johnson Tower 523, Pullman 305 NE Troy Mall


  • Ph.D. Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2007
  • B.Phil. Psychology, Summa cum Laude, Northwestern University, 2000

Areas of Emphasis

My research takes a biobehavioral approach towards the study of human animal interaction (HAI) by examining 1) the causal effects of animal assisted interventions (AAIs) in preventing or reducing the physiological ramifications of social and academic stress in youth and college students and 2) assessing the quality of dyadic and triadic interactions during AAIs to capture mediating pathways underlying effects on humans and animals using observational data.

Working with equine and canine programs, I conduct randomized controlled efficacy trials in real-life settings to examine the effects of AAIs on aspects of individuals’ emotion regulation with an emphasis on activity of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis as measured through salivary cortisol. I also analyze video recorded interactions of AAI participants (i.e., canine handlers, equine specialists, program facilitators, participants, canines, equines) to capture the quality and quantity of interactions for measurement development aimed at understanding pathways underlying effects of AAIs on human and animal wellbeing.

My work is situated in a prevention science perspective, includes basic and applied approaches drawing from literatures of human development, anthrozoology, animal assisted intervention, animal science and behavior, developmental psychoneuroendocrinology, psychometrics as well as program design, implementation and evaluation

Current Research Projects

The PAWs4US – Pet-Assisted Wellbeing for University Students:

The PAWs4US study is randomized controlled trial examining the effects of a college-based, animal-assisted drop-in program on first-years students’ adjustment as they transition to college. The main goals of the study are to understand to what extent students are attached to their family pet; to what extent that attachment and subsequent separation influences their behaviors related to academics and self-care throughout their first semester on campus; and whether these behaviors are adaptively influenced by regular access to human-animal interaction throughout the semester.

PETPALS – Pets for Promotion of Academic Life Skills:

Funded by MARS/WALTHAM, the PETPALS study is a randomized controlled trial examining the effects of college-based, animal-assisted stress prevention programs on human and animal participants. The main goal of this study is to examine the causal effects of infusing various levels of HAI (Human Animal Interaction) on college students’ executive functioning, motivation and learning, mental health symptomatology (anxiety, perceived stress, depression, and worry) and stress-related physiology (diurnal and momentary cortisol and alpha-amylase production). Another goal is to better understand the effects of participation in HAI programming on stress behavior of emotional support animals, and the role played by the quality of HAI on human and animal outcomes.

PATH to Success Study 

Inspired by the desire to prevent the development of stress-related child adjustment problems through animal-assisted, after-school programming, this NIH/Mars-Waltham funded, randomized controlled trial examines the efficacy of an 11-week, equine facilitated learning (EFL) program to strengthen adaptive diurnal activity of the HPA axis (measured through repeated measures of salivary cortisol) and enhance social competence of 10-15 year-old adolescents.

Pet your Stress Away Study

This randomized control trial examines the efficacy of an animal-assisted stress reduction program conducted at a college campus in the week leading up to final exams examining effects of a 10-minute session of canine and feline petting on students’ momentary emotion, perceptions of stress and momentary cortisol levels.

Physiology and Emotion during Human Equine Interaction

This study examines the diurnal and momentary activity of adolescents’ cortisol and alpha-amylase levels and their emotional and behavioral responses to various equine facilitated learning (EFL) program activities.


Current funding

Efficacy of college-based, animal-assisted stress-prevention programs on human and animal participants. $ 369,883 from MARS/WALTHAM, PI: P. Pendry, (1/1/2016 – 9/30/2019).

Linking EMA and Physiological Data to Understand Recovery Processes in Real Time. Washington State University Pilot Grant Support Program for Research on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. $16,720. PI: Michael J. Cleveland. Co-Is: Michael McDonell, Patricia Pendry, Hassan Ghasemzadeh (07/01/18 – 12/31/19).

Completed funding

Randomized Controlled Trial on Effects of College-Based, Animal Assisted Stress Prevention Program on Students’ Cortisol Reactivity and Emotion Regulation. $48,500 from the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, Washington State University, PI: P. Pendry (7/1/2015 – 6/30/2017) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Professional Development Award. $6,500 from the Department of Human Development, Washington State University, PI: P. Pendry, (1/1/2015 – 5/30/2016).

Efficacy Trial of Equine Assisted Counseling on Child Competence and Stress, $100,000 from National Institutes of Health, 5R03 HD066590-02, PI: P. Pendry (8/01/2010- 7/01/2013) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Family Instability, Interparental Conflict and Child Adjustment: Exploring the Role of

Children’s Physiological Stress-System Activity and Negative Emotionality, $20,000 from the National Center for Marriage Research, PI: P. Pendry (7/01/2008- 8/31/2010) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Selected Peer Review Publications

Pendry, P., Kuzara, S., & Gee, N. (2019). Evaluation of Undergraduate Students’ Responsiveness to A 4-Week University-Based Animal-Assisted Stress Prevention Program. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16, 3331; DOI:10.3390/ijerph16183331

Pendry, P. & Vandagriff, J. L. (In press). Salivary studies of the social neuroscience of Human-Animal Interaction. In M. K. Taylor & D. A. Granger (Eds.), Salivary Bioscience: Foundations of Interdisciplinary Saliva Research and Applications. New York: Springer.

Pendry, P., Kuzara, S., Vandagriff, J. L., & Gee, N. (In press). Characteristics of student-canine interaction during meet and greet activity in a university-based animal visitation program, Anthrozoös.

Pendry, P., & Vandagriff, J. L. (2019). Animal Visitation Program (AVP) reduces cortisol levels of university students: A Randomized Controlled Trial. AERA Open, 5(2),1-12.

Pendry, P., Vandagriff, J. L. & Carr, A.M. (2019). Clinical depression moderates effects of human animal interaction in university-based, stress prevention activities on student emotion, Journal of Public Mental Health.

Kuzara, S., Pendry, P., & Gee, N.  (2019). Exploring the quality of handler-dog interactions within a university-based animal assisted activity, Animals, 9 (7), 402.

Pendry, P., Carr, A. M., Vandagriff, J. L. (2018). Adolescents’ affective and physiological regulation shape negative behavior during challenging Equine Assisted Learning activities. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5(300).

Pendry, P., Carr, A. M., Roeter, S. M., & Vandagriff, J. L. (2018). Experimental trial demonstrates effects of animal-assisted stress prevention program on college students’ positive and negative emotion. Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 6(1), 81-97.

Fine, A.H. Kinoshita,M. Flaherty Fischette, P. Johnson,A.R.,  Mugnai, F. Biermann,K.P., Gorbing, P. Winkle, M/Y., Prokopiak, A. Zink, R., Deimel R., Pendry, P. (In press). Global Best Practices in Applying AAI: Snapshots of Unique Treatments. In A.H. Fine (Ed), Handbook of Animal- Assisted Therapy 5e. San Diego: Academic Press Elsevier.

Pendry, P., Carr, A., & Vandagriff, J. (2017). Does animal presence or interaction impact social and classroom behaviors conducive to student success? In N. Gee, A. Fine, & P. McCardle (Eds.), How Animals Help Students Learn: Research and Practice for Educators and Mental-Health Professionals. London: Routledge.

Pendry, P., Carr, A., & Vandagriff, J. (2016). Does animal presence or interaction impact social and classroom behaviors conducive to student success? In N. Gee, A. Fine, & P. McCardle (Eds.), How Animals Help Students Learn: Research and Practice for Educators and Mental-Health Professionals. London: Routledge.

Pendry, P., Carr, A.M., Smith, A.N., & Roeter, S.M. (2014). Improving adolescent social competence and behavior: A randomized trial of an 11-week equine facilitated learning prevention program. Journal of Primary Prevention 35(4), 281-293. https://

Pendry, P., Smith, A.N., & Roeter, S.M. (2014). Randomized trial examines effects of equine facilitated learning on adolescents’ basal cortisol levelsHuman Animal Interaction Bulletin, 2(1), 80-95.

Pendry, P., Carr, A., Papp, L.M., & Antles, J. (2013). Child presence during psychologically aggressive interparental conflict: Implications for internalizing and externalizing behaviorFamily Relations, 62(5), 755-767. doi: 10.111/fare.12033

Pendry, P., & Roeter, S.M. (2013). Experimental trial demonstrates positive effects of equine facilitated learning on child social competenceHuman Animal Interaction Bulletin, 1(1), 1-19.

Pendry, P., & Adam, E.K. (2013). Child-related interparental conflict in infancy predicts child cognitive functioning in a nationally representative sampleJournal of Child and Family Studies, 22(4), 502-515. doi: 10.1007/s10826-012-9603-3

Pendry, P., Roeter, S.M., Smith, A.N., Jacobson, S., & Erdman, P. (2013). Trajectories of positive and negative behavior during participation in equine facilitated learning program for horse-novice youth. Journal of Extension, 51(1) doi: 1R1B5 ISSN: 1077-5315

Pendry, P., (2013). EFL improves children’s social competenceStrides. Invited article in the bi-monthly publication of the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International, 4, 36-42.

Papp, L.M., Pendry, P., Simon, C., & Adam, E.K. (2012). Spouses’ cortisol associations and moderators: Testing physiological synchrony and connectedness in everyday lifeFamily Process, 52(2), 284-298. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2012.01413.x

Lisonbee, J.A., Pendry, P., Mize, J., & Parrett, G.E. (2010). Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and sympathetic nervous system activity and children’s behavioral regulationMind, Brain, and Education, 4(4), 171-181. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-228X.2010.01096.x

Papp, L.M., Pendry, P., & Adam, E.K. (2009). Mother-adolescent physiological synchrony in naturalistic settings: Within-family cortisol associations and moderatorsJournal of Family Psychology, 23(6), 882-894. doi: 10.1037/a0017147

Pendry, P., & Adam, E.K. (2007). Associations between parents’ marital functioning, maternal parenting quality, maternal emotion and child cortisol levels. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 31(3), 218-231. doi: 10.1177/0165025407074634.

Adam, E.K., Snell, E.K., & Pendry, P. (2007). Sleep timing and quantity in ecological and family context: A representative time-diary study. Journal of Family Psychology, 21(1), 4-19.  doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.21.1.4