Do dog and cat owners have different personality typers?

Emily as a Black Cat

Do dog and cat people differ in their personality traits? It’s an age-old question that continues to do the rounds in social circles across the world. Many people believe that fellow humans with shared personality characteristics are more likely to own either a dog or a cat, but does it ring true?

Numerous professional studies carried out by psychologists across the globe over the years have distinguished some common traits and we’ve come across one such study published in the USA that states "dog people" and "cat people" really do have different personalities.

People who said they were dog lovers in the study tended to be more lively — meaning they were more energetic and outgoing — and also tended to be better at following rules. Cat lovers appeared more introverted, more open-minded and more sensitive than the dog lovers. Cat owners also tended to be non-conformists, preferring to be expedient rather than follow the rules. Cat lovers also scored higher on intelligence than dog lovers.

Part of the reason for the personality differences may be related to the types of environments cat or dog people prefer, said study researcher Denise Guastello, an associate professor of psychology at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA, who initially presented the findings to the Association for Psychological Science.

"It makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they're going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, walking their dog," Guastello said. "Whereas, if you're more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you’ll be at home reading a book, and your cat doesn't need to go outside."

The researchers surveyed 600 college students, asking whether they would identify themselves as dog or cat lovers, and what qualities they found most attractive in a pet. Participants also answered a string of questions to help assess their personality.

More people said they were dog lovers than cat lovers: About 60 per cent of participants identified themselves as dog types, compared with 11 per cent who said they were cat people. The rest said they liked both animals, or neither.

Dog lovers found companionship to be the most attractive quality in their pets, while cat people valued affection.

It's possible that people may select pets based on their own personality, Guastello said. For example, cats are often seen as independent animals that keep themselves to themselves, and are cautious of others.

Because the study involved college students, it's not known whether the results apply to other age groups, but previous studies have revealed similar findings. A study of more than 4,500 people found that dog lovers tend to be more outgoing, and likely to follow rules.

Which camp do you fall into?

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