By Dr. Becker
According to a new study, “dog people” and “cat people” really are different in terms of their personalities. For example, study participants who identified as dog lovers tended to be more lively and extroverted. They were also rule-followers.
People in the study who identified as cat lovers were more introverted and sensitive than dog people, and more open-minded. They also described themselves as non-conformists who were not always inclined to follow the rules – especially if they felt their approach was more practical.
Whether You’re a Dog or Cat Person May Be Linked to the Environment You Prefer
According to study researcher Denise Guastello, an associate professor of psychology at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the differences in personality between dog and cat people probably correlate with the types of environments the two groups prefer.
"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, bringing their dog," Guastello said. "Whereas, if you're more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you're more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn't need to go outside for a walk."
The study also found that cat lovers scored higher on intelligence than dog lovers.
Dog People Most Value Companionship, While Cat Lovers Appreciate How Affectionate Their Pets Are
For her study, Guastello surveyed 600 college students. She asked them whether they considered themselves dog lovers or cat lovers, and what qualities they most appreciated in their choice of pet. The students were also asked several questions intended to evaluate their personality type.
Only 11 percent of participants claimed to be cat people, whereas about 60 percent identified as dog lovers. The remainder said they liked both animals, or neither animal. The dog lovers most appreciated the companionship of dogs, while the cat people put affection from their kitties at the top of the list.
People Probably Choose a Pet Based in Part on Their Own Personality
Guastello believes people may choose pets based on their own personality. Cats, for example, are viewed as independent and cautious, and people who also have those traits are more apt to gravitate toward cat ownership.
Guastello feels that understanding why people identify as either cat or dog lovers may assist pet therapy programs is making better matches between owners and pets.
Because the study involved only college students, Guastello doesn’t know if the results apply to other age groups. However, an earlier study of over 4,500 people also found that dog lovers tend to be extroverts and rule-followers.
Prof. Guastello’s findings were presented at the annual Association for Psychological Science meeting held earlier this year.