There really is a difference between “dog people” and “cat people,” according to new research from a University of Texas at Austin psychologist.
In a paper to be published later this year in the journal Anthrozoös, Sam Gosling finds that those who define themselves as “dog people” are more extraverted, more agreeable and more conscientious than self-described “cat people.”
Fans of felines, on the other hand, are more neurotic but also more open than their canine-loving counterparts.
“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 Gosling, who conducted the study with graduate student Carson Sandy.
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 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.
According to the findings:
- 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.
- Dog people were generally about 15 percent more extraverted, 13 percent more agreeable and 11 percent more conscientious than cat people.
- Cat people were generally about 12 percent more neurotic and 11 percent more open than dog people.
Gosling, a professor in the Psychology Department, is a leading authority on human personality. He is the author of “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” and recently made international headlines with his findings that people’s Facebook pages reveal their true personalities, not their idealized personalities.