People’s personalities often have more in common with their dog or cat than their friends, and now we know why owners and their animals are such a purr-fect match
PSYCHOLOGIST Richard Wiseman’s taste for quirky science is well known, so his pet personality project should come as no surprise. In an online survey, he asked people to rate their pets for things like friendliness and neuroticism. Over half of fish owners said their watery friends had a good sense of humour. Fish apparently appreciate a joke more than cats, horses and birds – but not as much as dogs. Reptiles entirely fail to see the funny side of things, according to their owners.
The survey also asked people to evaluate themselves. “Fish owners were the happiest,” Wiseman reported on his Quirkology website, “dog owners the most fun to be with, cat owners the most dependable and emotionally sensitive, and reptile owners the most independent.” There were big differences in personality, he noted. And here is the clincher: most people attributed the traits they possessed to their animals too. In other words, we see our pets as reflections of ourselves.
“It looks like people really can be considered as either catty or dogged”
Just a bit of fun? You might think so. But in recent years a new breed of researcher has been investigating the complex relationship between people and their pets. They are trying to answer questions including: are pets like substitute children; do we manipulate them, or they us; and can the world really be divided into “dog people” and “cat people”? Some people are said to look like their pets, but this new take on human-pet interactions is even weirder: …