What Your Pet Preference Says About You

It's often said that people resemble their pets — but can the type of pet you have really predict your personality type? According to some psychological studies, whether you're a dog person or a cat person actually says a lot about who you are. Are you surprised? Not surprised?

In recent years, researchers have been dipping their toes in the "what does my pet say about my personality?" waters — and the results are actually pretty interesting. An article published last week ion Psychology Today pulls a bunch of them together to see what our favorite pet type might say about who we are. The studies all take a similar format; they rely on some combination of respondents self-reporting whether they consider themselves a dog person or a cat person and answering a bunch of questioned geared at assessing their personality. Whenever there are correlations between dog vs. cat people and specific traits, that might indicate some fundamental differences between people who prefer dogs and people who prefer cats. Makes sense, right?

It's worth noting, though, that while there have been some studies about the topic, there haven't been a boatload of them yet; as such, we could probably stand to have more data before we say for certain that, yes, cat people have certain personality traits, and yes, dog people have other personality traits. Come to think of it, we also don't seem to have much data pertaining to people who consider themselves both a dog and a cat person, or people who consider themselves neither. I would argue that pet preference isn't an either/or kind of issue; there's a huge spectrum of answers, and eventually, it'd be interesting to see research that covered the whole thing, rather than just two possibilities.

In any event, though, here's what we're pretty sure we know so far about cat people vs. dog people? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with what the research thus far has revealed?

If You're a Cat Person...

  • You're probably smart, social situations take a lot out of you (even if you do enjoy them), and you like to think outside the box. According to a study conducted by Denise Guastello in 2014, people who identify as cat lovers score highly on intelligence tests; they're also introverted and fairly non-conformist.
  • You likely have an appreciation for things that are difficult to quantify: Art, imagination, creativity, and so on. You may, however, also be a little on the neurotic side. A 2010 study conducted by Sam Gosling at the University of Texas in Austin compared how people scored on the Big Five personality inventory with whether or not they self-identified as cat or dog people. Among other things, he found that: One,cat people are about 11 percent more open than dog people, a trait which is associated with unconventionality; and two, they're also about 12 percent more neurotic.
  • Politically, you might lean liberal — or at least, you might if we take a survey conducted by Time at face value: It found that liberals tend to prefer cat people. Then again, though, that's not to say that you absolutely do vote Democrat if you're a cat person; after all, cat people think out of the box, remember? Psychology Today, for example, still thinks the jury is out on this one, so do with it what you will.
  • You're not terribly competitive. A study conducted by Beatrice Alba and Nick Haslam examined how traits associated with social dominance lined up (or didn't) with whether people identified as dog people or cat people — and guess what happened? When they tested people for personality characteristic associated with dominance — Social Dominance Orientation (SDO), interpersonal dominance, competitiveness, and narcissism — they found that cat people scored pretty low. You march to the beat of your own proverbially drummer and couldn't care less about how you're doing in relation to everyone else around you.

If You're a Dog Person...

  • You probably make friends easily, you feel energized by social situations, and you tend to go with the crowd. Boy, you're just a barrel of laughs, aren't you? That same study conducted by Denise Guastello found that self-identified dog people are outgoing, energetic, and lively; you also tend to follow the rules more, though, so just because you're outgoing doesn't mean you're a loose cannon.
  • You're likely pretty goal-oriented. The 2010 UT Austin study found that dog people were 11 percent more conscientious than cat people. This trait is associated with self-discipline, task completion, and aiming for achievement — that is, you like to figure out what needs to get done, do it, and check it off your to-do list.
  • The same way cat people might lean more towards the liberal end of things, you might lean more towards the conservative one. That Time survey? It found that conservatives generally favor dogs over cats.
  • You're probably a pretty competitive person. That study about whether there's a difference between dog people and cat people when it comes to social dominance found that dog people score more highly than cat people on on Social Dominance Orientation and competitiveness.

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