Thanks to The Telegraph for this article.
Study launched to probe pet personalities
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Is your cat is scatty but loveable, just like you? Or maybe your Rottweiler also likes to eat a little bit too much? Then Professor Richard Wiseman would like to hear from you.
Prof Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire has launched an online study to investigate a subject close to the heart of pet lover: are their pets like them in terms of personality?
“We are seeing whether owner’s think that their pets have the same personality as them, whether their pets are grumpy, cheerful and so on,” he said.
In his online study, participants will be asked what kind of pet they have, and then to rate their own personality and their pets personality.
” I can use the data to look for similarities, and identify which types of pets seem to yield the maximum similarity,” explained Prof Wiseman.
Preliminary results, based on 1000 people and their pets, show that one person in every three “are convinced their cat has a sense of humour,” he said.
“We find that 91 per cent of dogs are described as happy, compared to just 62 per cent of fish.
Also, when it comes to the owners themselves, there is reason to be wary of people with lizards and snakes – only 2 per cent of reptile owners described themselves as dependable, versus 43 per cent of dog owners.”
However, he stressed that “this is very much work in progress and that he needs more people to take part.”
Many animals appear to have stable personalities, just like we do. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin had dog owners rate their pets on known human personality traits (for example extroversion, emotional stability). Then strangers watched the animals in a park, and made the same ratings.
Reporting in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology the researchers found that the owners and strangers agreed on an individual dog’s personality, suggesting that the dog personalities are real.
“Similar work has been carried out, with the same results, on other animals including cats, cows, horses and goats,” said Prof Wiseman.
Also, we know that people tend to choose dogs that look like them, said Prof Wiseman.
Evidence for the old adage that dog owners look like their pets emerged from one experiment conducted in 2000 by readers of The Daily Telegraph and BBC viewers with the University of St Andrews.
The owners of golden retrievers and King Charles spaniels do indeed resemble their dogs, according to 1,300 Daily Telegraph readers, though the owners of West Highland terriers do not.
Another study by a team at the University of California, San Diego which showed that people choose purebred dogs that resemble them.
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