Pets give clue to personality19th January 2010
The way people identify themselves with different animals may say something about their personalities, according to a recent US study.
People who identify as 'dog people' may share traits of those animals, including gregariousness and being eager to please others.
People who identify as 'cat people' may be a bit more introverted and curious than people who do not.
Researcher Sam Gosling, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, said that even though people believed that so-called dog people and cat people are different, researchers had never made a study of the difference until now.
He said that, while there had been studies on the personality traits of dog owners and cat owners, scientists had never attempted to study people who self-identified as a 'cat person' or a 'dog person' but might own the opposite animal.
For the purposes of the study, the research team asked about 4,500 people whether or not they identified with cats or dogs.
The study participants were examined for conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, openness, and neuroticism.
Conscientiousness was defined as being self-disciplined, as well as having a tendency to plan things out before taking action.
Extroversion was defined as being very friendly, energetic, and optimistic.
Study participants who were agreeable were altruistic, kind, and sociable.
Study participants who were open tended to be curious, creative, and nontraditional.
'Neuroticism' was defined as being easily stressed, worried, or anxious.
Together, these five categories were used as general indications of people's differences and similarities.
Of the people who took the survey, 46% self-identified as dog people, 12% were cat people, 28% grouped themselves with lovers of both animals, and 15% did not self-identify with either animal.
The researchers found that the people who identified themselves with dogs were about 15% more extroverted, 13% more agreeable, and 11% more conscientious than people who self-identified with cats.
On the other hand, people who self-identified with cats were 12% more likely to have neuroticism and 11% more likely to have openness as character traits.
Cat people were about 12% more neurotic and 11% more open than dog people.
Gosling said that further research into human and animal qualities might help match people in pet therapy with the most appropriate animal for their personality type.
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