Andrea D. Guastello, Denise D. Guastello, & Stephen J. Guastello
University of Florida, Carroll University, & Marquette University
Understanding the relationship between human personality and preferences for pet species is important for bettering human-animal relationships, supporting animal welfare, and supporting pet therapy. The present study examined personality differences between dog people and cat people with the objective of addressing some discrepancies in previous research that could be traced to the use of broadly defined versus narrowly defined traits. Participants were 418 undergraduates who completed the Sixteen Personality Factors Questionnaire (16PF) and a Pet Survey that classified them as dog or cat people. The 16PF contains 15 narrowly defined primary personality traits, a brief measure of general intelligence, and 5 global factors that are comparable in meaning to those of the Five Factor Model. The principal differences were that the 352 dog people scored higher on warmth, liveliness, rule consciousness, and social boldness compared to the 66 cat people. The latter scored higher on general intelligence, abstractedness, and self-reliance. Overall, primary traits corresponded to a pattern known to be associated with creative personalities and produced better discrimination between the two groups than traits corresponded to the Five Factor Model. Some traits were more salient for females than they were for males.