Cat lovers and dog lovers may have more differences than just the type of pet they prefer, according to new research from Denise Guastello, PhD, of Carroll University. The findings, which were presented at the annual Association for Psychological Science meeting, suggest that there are both personality and intelligence differences between the two types of animal lovers.
After surveying 600 college students, researchers determined that dog lovers tend to be more outgoing and extroverted; cat lovers are more inclined to be open-minded, sensitive, and introverted. Dog people prefer following rules closely, while cat people preferred being expedient to being a rule-follower.
“One explanation for these personality differences could be due to each owner’s choice of environment,” said Guastello. “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.”
Beyond personality, though, cat lovers scored higher on intelligence tests than their dog-owning counterparts.
Furthermore, fewer people identified as cat fans. Just 11% of the surveyed group chose cats as their pet of choice, while 60% of those surveyed preferred dogs. The remaining members of the survey group either responded that they liked both animals equally or they didn’t identify with either type of pet. Though this study focused on college students, a 2010 study of more than 4,500 people came to similar conclusions.
Guastello believes this study’s results could be used to improve pet therapy, helping to create better owner-pet matches.