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Are emotionally attached companion animal caregivers conscientious and neurotic? factors that affect the human-companion animal relationship

By G. M. Reevy, M. M. Delgado

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Abstract

Few studies have examined how personality traits may be related to the amounts and types of attachments humans have toward companion animals (pets). In this study, 1,098 companion animal guardians (owners) completed a survey that included the Big Five Inventory, the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, and the Pet Attachment Questionnaire. Each participant chose whether he or she identified as a Cat Person, Dog Person, Both, or Neither. Results indicated that neuroticism, conscientiousness, choosing a dog as a favorite pet, and identifying as a Cat Person, Dog Person, or Both predicted affection for a pet. Conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness decreased avoidant attachment to pets, and neuroticism increased anxious attachment to pets. Both dogs and cats could benefit from pet owners who are conscientious, and there may be some benefits of neuroticism in pet owners. The findings of this study will advance understanding of the human-animal bond. As this understanding increases, measurements of human attachment and personality may be useful for the development of tools that could assist shelter employees and veterinarians in counseling people about pet ownership.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 18
Issue 3
Pages 239-258
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2014.988333
Language English
Author Address Department of Psychology, California State University, East Bay, Hayward, California, USA.mikeldelgado@berkeley.edu
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Canidae
  5. Canine
  6. Carnivores
  7. Cats
  8. Counseling
  9. Dogs
  10. Human behavior
  11. Humans
  12. Mammals
  13. Men
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. Personality
  16. personnel
  17. Pets and companion animals
  18. Primates
  19. Questionnaires
  20. Relationships
  21. Research
  22. traits
  23. vertebrates
  24. Veterinarians
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed