Is there really a difference between cat lovers and dog lovers and, if so, what are they? Does one group tend to be more introverted, extroverted, rule-following, intelligent, etc? Chances are, as a current or former pet owner, you've probably gotten into a (heated) discussion along these lines before, as people tend to have very strong opinions on the matter based on personal experiences and, if they're honest, probably more than a little bit of bias! Though the stereotypes abound, is there really any truth to this whole cat people vs. dog people debate?
It turns out that this is more than mere cocktail party fare--as psychologists have actually conducted studies to see whether personality and other traits are somehow related to strong preferences for one pet over the other. Before we move on to the results, cat and dog lovers, remember that these aren't our findings or opinions. We're simply reporting what researchers found. So read on, and then continue to duke it out amongst yourselves!
Between dog lovers and cat lovers, which are more outgoing and energetic?
Dog lovers. According to a study conducted by Samuel Gosling of the University of Texas at Austin, dog lovers tended to be more extroverted and social than cat people who tended to be more introverted and autonomous. Also, in a study conducted at Carroll University in Wisconsin, dog people were found to be more energetic and "lively" than cat people. According to researcher Denise Guastello (quoted from an article on Livescience.com), "It makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they're going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog. Whereas, if you're more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you're more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn't need to go outside for a walk."
Which are more open to new experiences?
This one goes to the cat lovers. According to the Austin study, cat people were more open to experience than dog lovers. Similarly, the Carroll University study showed that cat people are more open minded in general, tended to be non-conformists, and are more prone to break the rules in favor of expediency. Dog lovers, on the other hand, tend not to divert from the tried and tested path and generally like to stick closely to the rules.
Which are less neurotic?
You guessed it--dog lovers tend to be less neurotic than the average person, whereas cat lovers are closer to average when it comes to feeling anxious, depressed, and moody. Let the crazy cat lady jokes commence.
And (drum roll please), which group scored higher on intelligence tests?
Don't kill the messengers, but according to the Carroll University study, cat people, on average, had higher intelligence test scores than dog people. A controversial result, indeed, and I'm sure further studies will be run to see if these findings can be replicated.
I know, I know, there are probably loads of you out there saying things like, "but I prefer dogs and I'm an introvert!" Remember that there are always outliers as far as statistical results are concerned, and there's no such thing as a perfectly representative dataset. Also, even though these particular studies had statistically significant results, other studies showed no conclusive results--which leads one to believe that if there are differences between cat and dog lovers on the whole, they're probably slight.
So now that we've got you all fighting like cats and dogs, we should mention the findings of another study conducted by Aline Kidd of Mills College and Robert Kidd of the V.A. Medical Center. According to the Kidds, those who owned either a dog or a cat had lower levels of aggression than the general population. And we'll leave it on that peaceful note.
By guest blogger: Maya Marin