U. TEXAS-AUSTIN—Dog people tend to be agreeable extroverts and cat people are more open and neurotic, new research shows.
“There is a widely held cultural belief that the pet species—dog or cat—with which a person has the strongest affinity says something about the individual’s personality,” says Sam Gosling, a University of Texas at Austin psychologist.
Yet numerous studies that have tried to tackle this question in the past have failed to find convincing evidence for consistent differences between the two kinds of pet lovers. Gosling’s paper—to be published later this year in the journal Anthrozoös— is the first to provide a clear portrait of what cat and dog people tend to be like.
“This research suggests there are significant differences on major personality traits between dog people and cat people,” he says. “Given the tight psychological connections between people and their pets, it is likely that the differences between dogs and cats may be suited to different human personalities.”
As part of the research, 4,565 volunteers were asked whether they were dog people, cat people, neither, or both. The same group was given a 44-item assessment that measured them on the so-called Big Five personality dimensions psychologists often use to study personalities.
Forty-six percent of respondents described themselves as dog people, while 12 percent said they were cat people. Almost 28 percent said they were both and 15 percent said they were neither.
The findings show dog people were generally about 15 percent more extroverted, 13 percent more agreeable, and 11 percent more conscientious than cat people, who were generally about 12 percent more neurotic and 11 percent more open than their canine-loving counterparts.
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