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The Relationship Between Neuroticism Facets, Conscientiousness, and Human Attachment to Pet Cats

By Gretchen M. Reevy, Mikel M. Delgado

Category Journal Articles

Gaining knowledge about the diverse correlates of human–pet attachment will help us better understand the nature of this bond. Previous research found that the personality dimensions of neuroticism and conscientiousness positively predicted human attachment to multiple types of pets. To address a literature gap, the current study focused on people’s attachments to cats. We had two primary goals: first, to replicate earlier findings of associations between neuroticism, conscientiousness, and three attachment variables: attachment anxiety (one’s sense of worthiness of love), attachment avoidance (one’s sense of trustworthiness of the attachment figure), and general attachment to a pet; and second, we assessed how neuroticism facets (anger, anxiety, depression, immoderation, self-consciousness, vulnerability) are individually related to attachment to cats. Participants (n = 1,239) completed an online survey including the Pet Attachment Questionnaire, the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, and items from the International Personality Item Pool and the Big Five Inventory. Neuroticism, conscientiousness, and facet level anxiety were negative predictors of attachment avoidance and positive predictors of general attachment. Attachment anxiety toward cats was moderately associated with all neuroticism facets. From these results, incorporating findings from past research on human relationships, we compared associations between neuroticism facets and attachment for three different types of relationships: romantic, friendship, and human–cat. Associations between neuroticism facets and the view of one’s worthiness of love (attachment anxiety) were similar across the different relationship types, but the association between neuroticism facets and attachment avoidance depended on the type of relationship (romantic, friendship, or human–cat). Conscientiousness may be a helpful trait in pet owners. Future research could investigate relations between measures of attachment and actual behavior toward pet cats and between neuroticism facets and attachment to other pets, such as dogs.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 33
Issue 3
Pages 387-400
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2020.1746527
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Attachment behavior
  2. Cats
  3. Human-animal interactions
  4. Neuroticism
  5. Personality