Why being a pet owner makes you more conscientious, caring and creative

Posted by Argos. March 8th 2015.

There’s long been the stereotype of the lonely cat ladies and the theory that the appearance of a dog owner is often reflected in their choice of pooch.


Is there any truth behind these claims, and are there any traits that set pet owners apart from those that prefer to keep their homes free of furry friends? And if you’re the kind of person that firmly falls into the dog or cat camp, what does that say about you?

Young couple and dog

Getting under the skin (or fur) of pet owners

Well, research conducted by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, could provide some answers.

More than 1,000 people took part in the web based survey which aimed to identify the key personality traits and nurturing styles of those who claimed to be a “cat person,” “dog person,” “both,” or “neither.”

The respondents were asked to choose the category that best described them, along with a series of personality-based questions covering what psychologists call the “Big Five”: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

It was found that pet owners who couldn’t help expressing strong affection towards their beloved animals were more likely to be conscientious – and neurotic.

It seems that mums and dads (to actual children) known as “helicopter parents” – those who interfere too much with their kids’ lives as they gain more independence – make ideal pet owners.

Perhaps this is because unlike moaning adolescents adapting to adulthood, a pet needs lifelong parenting.

It’s also believed that cat owners tend to be more neurotic than dog owners, and whereas feline fans are often more adventurous and creative than their counterpart adoptive parents, canine enthusiasts are likely to be extroverts with less adventurous tendencies.

The study marks the first time a positive correlation has been made between neuroticism, anxious attachment, care and affection towards pets.

Of the people questioned, those who scored highly in the area of anxious attachment were more likely to be younger and prefer the company of cats.

A cat owner with her pet

A question of intelligence

Then comes the controversial issue of intelligence. Who are smarter – cat or dog lovers?

Another study by Carroll University in the USA concluded that cat owners performed better in an IQ test than people with dogs.

Perhaps fittingly, dog devotees were also more energetic and outgoing than cat owners – they are even more likely to follow rules more obediently… coincidence?

People who welcomed cats in to their homes tended to be more introverted and sensitive, with a more open-minded outlook on life. Reflecting the independent personalities we associate with felines, cat owners were found to be better at breaking the rules!

The Professor behind the study, Denise Guastello, said she thought the reason for these patterns is down to the different types of environments that dog and cat owners are attracted to.

Do you fit the typical pet owner profiles?

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