Military Academy professor’s study claims women enjoy interacting with castrated males

United States Military Academy Associate Professor Sonya Bierbower (left) published the results of a "cow cuddling" study in New York. (West Point/Instagram)

A small study involving “cow cuddling” found interesting results about the different interactions between genders.

The tradition of “Koeknufflen,” in the Netherlands, refers to people traveling from the cities to the countryside to spend time with farm animals to decompress and emotionally recalibrate.

During the recent “Cow cuddling: Cognitive considerations in bovine-assisted therapy,” conducted by Katherine Compitus at New York University and Sonya Bierbower at the United States Military Academy West Point, invited five women, five men, and one girl to meet two castrated male Holsteins at Surrey Hills Sanctuary in New York State.

According to the study, “Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is an integrative model frequently used in conjunction with other modalities such as psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. The most common AAT model is when a companion animal, such as a dog or cat, is integrated into a therapeutic treatment plan.”

Each study participant was asked to spend a minimum of 45 minutes (the typical length of time for a clinical animal-assisted psychotherapy session) with Magnus and Callum (the steers) in their pen at the sanctuary. 

Bierbower and Compitus hypothesized that interactions with cattle would “provide a positive therapeutic benefits for all humans, but that due to cultural socialization, males and females may have slightly different interaction experiences.”

Their small study seemed to prove the difference in the interactions between genders.

“The results of this study show that the steers showed a strong preference for interactions with women when compared to men and, in turn, the women reported stronger attachment behaviors toward the steers. It is unclear without further testing whether the animals sought out the attention of women in general or if the women were more likely to initiate the actions when compared to the men participants,” the study found.  

“For some reason, the women seem to enjoy it more – and the cows enjoyed it more too,” said Compitus

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