AUSTIN, Texas — There really is a difference between "dog people" and "cat people," according to new research from a University of Texas at Austin psychologist.
In a paper to be published later this year in the journal Anthrozoös, Sam Gosling finds that those who define themselves as "dog people" are more extraverted, more agreeable and more conscientious than self-described "cat people."
Fans of felines, on the other hand, are more neurotic but also more open than their canine-loving counterparts.
"There is a widely held cultural belief that the pet species--dog or cat--with which a person has the strongest affinity says something about the individual's personality," says Gosling, who conducted the study with graduate student Carson Sandy.
Yet numerous studies that have tried to tackle this question in the past have failed to find convincing evidence for consistent differences between the two kinds of pet lovers. Gosling's paper is the first to provide a clear portrait of what cat and dog people tend to be like.
"This research suggests there are significant differences on major personality traits between dog people and cat people," he says. "Given the tight psychological connections between people and their pets, it is likely that the differences between dogs and cats may be suited to different human personalities."
As part of the research, 4,565 volunteers were asked whether they were dog people, cat people, neither or both. The same group was given a 44-item assessment that measured them on the so-called Big Five personality dimensions psychologists often use to study personalities.
According to the findings:
Gosling, a professor in the Psychology Department, is a leading authority on human personality. He is the author of "Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You" and recently made international headlines with his findings that people's Facebook pages reveal their true personalities, not their idealized personalities.