By Margarita Nahapetyan
A new study conducted by Sam Gosling, a psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin, has revealed that there are the differences between owners of dogs and owners of cats.
People have connected certain personality traits with their favorite pets for decades. But until this time, not a single study has been able to find any evidence of such connection. For the study purposes, Sam Gosling and his colleagues posted online a personality questionnaire called the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project.
As part of the research, more that 4,500 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, such as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These five dimensions have been shown in previous research to encompass most personality traits.
As a result, Gosling found that those individuals who called themselves dog people were significantly higher on extraversion, more agreeable, and more conscientious, and lower on neuroticism and openness when compared to cat owners. Self-described cat people turned out to be more neurotic, but they were also more open. According to the Sam Gosling's findings:
Forty-six per cent of respondents described themselves as dog people, while 12 per cent said that they were cat people. Nearly 28 per cent said that they were both and 15 per cent said they were neither.
Dog owners were generally about 15 per cent more extroverted, 13 per cent more agreeable and 11 per cent more conscientious when compared to cat people.
In general, cat people were about 12 per cent more neurotic and 11 per cent more open when compared to dog people.
And these findings proved true regardless of whether the respondent was a man or a woman.
About 37 per cent of American households have dogs and 32 per cent have cats, but the cat population (about 82 million) is significantly higher than the dog population (about 72 million), said Hal Herzog, professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, citing 2007 data from the American Veterinary Medical Association. That is because individuals tend to own multiple cats, as the latter are more amenable to many people's lifestyles, Herzog said adding that people tend to gravitate toward the animals they were raised with. Cat owners tend to be raised in families that had cats, and dog owners tend to be raised in dog families. In fact, one study even found that the animal you like is the one your grandparents lived with, Herzog said.
The new study will appear in the journal Anthrozoos in September 2010.