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Personality, Intelligence, and Cats vs. Dogs

Dogs and cats each have their own attributes and personalities, but does choosing to be a “dog person” or a “cat person” help determine our own traits?

It’s often creepy when we spot a pet and their pet parent who have an eerily physical resemblance to one another, however we don’t take much thought in similar personality traits between pets and their pet parents. It’s common knowledge that dogs are known as outgoing, active, and attention-loving animals, while cats are recognized as mellow, curious, solitude creatures. But does the type of pet a person brings into their home predict that person’s personality? According to a web-based study done in 2010 at the University of Texas, yes, yes it does.

Photo Via: Medicsindex.ning.com

Photo Via: Medicsindex.ning.com

The online study asked 4,565 different people if they identified themselves as “dog people”, “cat people”, both, or neither. They were then given a 44-question survey that measured their answers on the “Big Five” personality dimension spectrum which psychologists use to study personality – Conscientiousness (self-discipline), Extraversion (enthusiasm), Agreeableness (trusting), Openness (nontraditional thinking), and Neuroticism (stress).

46% of those surveyed self-identified as “dog people”,12% said they were “cat people”, and 28% were both while 15% were neither.

Dog People: The dog people were 15% more extroverted (outgoing and social), 13% more agreeable (trusting and kind), and 11% more conscientious (organized and self-disciplined ) than cat people.

Cat People: The cat people on the other hand were 12% more neurotic (anxious, easily stressed) and 11% more open (appreciative of art and culture) than dog people.

While this study is limited to only 4,565 people, and many are both or neither cat and dog people, this research has revealed that people may gravitate toward pets with similar personality traits as their own. An outgoing, dutiful, social person may prefer an equally outgoing, dutiful, and social dog. A reserved, introverted, more creative person may prefer a cat as their housemate. However, the lines do cross, and pets often balance out our different personalities.

Photo Via: Psychologytoday.com

Photo Via: Psychologytoday.com

Since being a pet parent to the animal of our choice can reveal more about a person’s personality, what can that choice tell us about a person’s intelligence? According to a more recent study, choosing “dog or cat” can reveal how smart we are.

According to the newer study done at Carroll University in Wisconsin, 600 college students were asked whether they were “dog people” or “cat people”, what qualities they liked best about their pets, and more questions that assessed their personalities.

Out of those 600 students, 60% said they identified more with dogs and enjoyed the “companionship” of their dog the best, while only 11% said they identified more with cats and enjoyed the “affection” from their cats the best – the remaining said they either liked both cats and dogs, or liked neither.

However, while the “dog people” reign once again in this study at 60%, it were the “cat people” who scored higher in intelligence. While dogs may be smarter than cats according to yet another study from 2010 (tired of the studies, already?) that found dogs have experienced greater brain growths in the past 60 million years compared to cats, it is the personalities of the cat people that make them smarter than the dog people.

Because dogs need ample exercise and walks outside, dog people spend more time outdoors and socializing. Cats however, are more comfortable indoors lounging on the couch, and usually their pet parents are the same. Cat people, who are usually introverted, are more likely to read a book and study their interests than dog people, who are usually more extroverted and social.

(Photo Via: Librarything.com)

(Photo Via: Librarything.com)

Of course though, just like with personality, the kind of pet a person chooses doesn’t necessarily determine their intelligence. Pets are here to bring us companionship and affection, to make us smile and lick our tears away, and to ultimately teach us to be better human beings. Whether we are extroverts or introverts, organized or creative, or relaxed or anxious, we all chose our pets for one reason: because we love them.


Are you a self-described “dog person” or “cat person”? Do you think the pet we choose describes our personality and intelligence? Let Animal Culture know in the comment section below!


*Sources: Psychologytoday.com, Pets.webmd.com, Time.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Livescience.com*
*Note: The article above was written by © Kalie Lyn, 2014*
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