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Dog people and cat people differ on dominance-related traits

By B. Alba, N. Haslam

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Many people identify themselves as being either a "cat person" or a "dog person" based on their preference for these domestic animals. The purpose of this study was to test the common belief that there are personality differences between these types. Previous research has found differences between cat people and dog people on all Big Five personality traits, but studies comparing them on other personality characteristics have yielded mixed findings. Conjecturing that people prefer pets that complement their own personalities, we predicted that dog people should score higher than cat people on traits relating to dominance (i.e., social dominance orientation [SDO], interpersonal dominance, competitiveness, and narcissism). Two samples ( ns=506 and 503) were recruited online and completed these measures, as well as a question regarding their pet preferences. Findings for SDO and competitiveness were consistent with predictions in both studies, but no differences were found on interpersonal dominance or narcissism. The association of being a dog person with SDO and competitiveness persisted when gender differences in pet preference and personality were statistically controlled. We concluded that individuals who are high on these traits tend to prefer submissive pets such as dogs, whose temperament complements their preference for dominance.

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 37-44
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Publisher Bloomsbury Journals (formerly Berg Journals)
DOI 10.2752/089279315x14129350721858
Language English
Author Address Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals
  2. Anthrozoology
  3. Canidae
  4. Canine
  5. Carnivores
  6. Cats
  7. Dogs
  8. Domestic animals
  9. Dominance
  10. Mammals
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. Personality
  13. Pets and companion animals
  14. Research
  15. sociability
  16. temperament
  17. traits
  18. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed