Compatibility of riders’ personality traits and the perceived personality of their horse
Department of Psychology, University of Oslo
This study addresses the relationship between competition riders’ personality traits and the perception of their horse’s personality, and it assesses whether a match in personality is associated with aspects of the riders’ self-esteem, general self-efficacy, satisfaction with life, anxiety and depression. An invitation to participate in the study and a link to an online questionnaire were distributed via e-mail to members of the Norwegian Equestrian Federation (NEF). In total, 662 riders (95.5% female) accessed the survey site and completed the questionnaire. Most riders perceived of themselves as planned and systematic, extraverted and sociable, open to new experiences and non-neurotic. They tended to perceive of their favourite horse in a similar manner. Based on the riders’ perceptions, three dimensions of personality in the horses were identified: ‘neuroticism’, ‘agreeableness’ and ‘extraversion’. To study the match and discrepancy in human and horse personality, new variables were constructed to measure the differences between human personality and horse personality. Positive self-esteem and higher subjective well-being in the rider correlated with a match in both agreeableness and extraversion. On the other hand, riders who had a discrepancy with their horse in agreeableness and extraversion reported more depression. Riders who experienced a match in extraversion with their horse had higher self-efficacy. Lastly, riders who had a discrepancy with their horse in neuroticism and extraversion reported more anxiety.
Keywords: Competition riders, human–horse interaction, Big Five personality traits, horse’s personality
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bente Træen, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Postbox 1094, Blindern, N-0317 Oslo; Norway. www.psykologi.uio.no
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