WebMD Pet Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Jan. 14, 2010 -- Are you a "cat
person" or a "dog
person"? Even people who don't own either pet
tend to self-identify as one or the other, and the answer may say something
about their personalities, a study shows.
As a rule, dogs are more social and eager to please, while cats are more
introverted and curious.
In the new study, self-described cat and dog people appeared to share these
"Even though we have this widely held idea that dog people and cat people
are somehow different, we haven't really known how they are different and
previous research has failed to tell us," psychologist and study researcher Sam
Gosling, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin, tells WebMD.
He believes this is because earlier studies examined personality differences
in cat and dog owners, failing to account for the fact that a dog person
may actually own a cat and vice versa.
As part of a larger online personality survey, Gosling and colleague Carson
J. Sandy, asked about 4,500 people if they considered themselves dog people or
The 44-question survey delved into the five dimensions of personality
thought to encompass the spectrum of personality types:
"In terms of personalities I would say Woody Allen is at one end of this
spectrum and the "Dude" from the Big Lebowski is at the other," Gosling
Forty-six percent of those who took the survey identified themselves as dog
people, while 12% said they were cat people. Twenty-eight percent said
they were both and 15% said they were neither.
According to the findings, self-identified dog people were 15% more
extroverted, 13% more agreeable, and 11% more conscientious than cat
Cat people were about 12% more neurotic and 11% more open than dog
"These are not huge differences," Gosling says. "There are certainly many,
many cat people who are extroverts and many, many dog people who aren't."
But he adds that the findings may have broader implications in the field of
pet therapy, suggesting that personality screening may help match people in
need with the most appropriate animal.
The study will be published later this year in the journal
Film producer Susan Williams, of Atlanta, owns a dog and two cats, but she
is firmly entrenched in the canine camp.
"Neither of my cats likes me much because they know I don't get them," she
Her 9-year-old daughter, Ella, on the other hand, could probably qualify as
a '"cat whisperer."
"Outside the house I rarely see a cat because they know I'm a dog person,
but any cat within a block of her will find her."
Williams says she definitely believes dog people, as a rule, are more
extroverted and agreeable and that cat people are more introverted.
"I'm a flight, not fight person," she says. "To avoid an argument, I'll
agree with you if you tell me the sky is green."
SOURCES:Gosling, S. Anthrozoos, online edition.Samuel D. Gosling, PhD, department of psychology, University of Texas at
Austin.Susan Williams, film producer, Atlanta.News release, University of Texas at Austin.
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