A new study is showing that the most affectionate pet owners also rate the highest in traits of neuroticism and conscientiousness.
This signify that the qualities that make for overbearing parents might actually work for pets, which tend to require lifelong parenting.
While prior research has focused on people’s attachment to their pets, this is the first American study to incorporate the principles of human attachment theory — which analyzes the bond between parents and children or between romantic partners — with pet owners’ personality types. The study is the first to establish an association between neuroticism, anxious attachment, and the care of and affection for pets.
For the study, the researchers recruited 1,000 male and female pet owners of all ages through the Craigslist classified advertising website, their personal Facebook pages and pet-related pages on the Reddit news. The patients completed an online survey which allowed the researchers to identify and analyze the key personality traits and styles of people who identified as a “cat person” or a “dog person”. Almost 40% of those surveyed said they like both cats and dogs equally. 38% said they were “dog people” and 19% “cat people”.
Generally, individuals who score high on anxious attachment tend to need more reassurance from the objects of their affection, and in the survey those tended to be younger people who were self-proclaimed cat people.
Both dog and cat lovers scored low on avoidant attachment, which refers to a less affectionate and more withdrawn temperament (those who have this temperament would be more likely labeled as a “commitment-phobe” in romantic relationships). This suggests that pet owners desire a close relationship with their pets. The more attentive and affectionate pet owners tended to receive higher affection scores and lower avoidant attachment scores.
Author: Blaine Pollock