Do ‘Dog People’ and ‘Cat People’ have Different Personalities?
You’ve probably heard the question yourself many times: are you a “dog person” or a “cat person?” Though we can probably imagine that many animal advocates would enthusiastically say “both!”, some people may still identify as one or the other for different reasons. Our companion animals play a huge role in our lives, and it is not surprising that we may define our personalities based on the traits that we perceive to be associated with a particular species. Studies have even shown that people with certain personalities may be drawn to having certain companion animals in the home. Although past research has found several personality traits that differ between dog people and cat people, the differences have generally been “qualified and inconsistent.”
This study, based on a survey of about 1,000 people divided into two samples, focused on a particular set of personality traits, including “social dominance orientation” and “narcissistic personality inventory.” The researchers found that dog people rated “significantly higher” than cat people on social dominance and competitiveness measures. Contrary to their predictions, however, there was no significant difference on ratings of assertiveness or narcissism. Interestingly, the results did not show any significant differences in gender between or within the samples. The authors of the study note, “if it is true that the behavior of pets complements that of their [human companions], then there may be other important ways in which people with different pet preferences differ psychologically. Future studies might examine whether the observed pattern of findings replicates outside the USA, where the present study’s samples were collected.” Knowing these personality types can be useful for companion animal advocates seeking to appeal to the particular psychology of “dog people” or “cat people.” It also may be of political consequence. The study notes that “nine of the top 10 dog-owning states voted Republican in the 2012 Presidential Election, and 9 of the 10 bottom dog-owning states voted Democrat.”