I’m a dog person

I get a perverse kick out of telling people “I like my dog; I don’t love my dog.”  I have a nice dog.  He’s sweet and cute, but he wants in or out (whichever he is not) all the time, and he’s good the misfortune of being a good dog on the heels of two great dogs.  (Here’s my daughter’s Instagram account dedicated to him).

Anyway, among all Arthur Brooks‘ happiness articles, I found this recent one among the most intriguing, “Which Pet Will Make You Happiest?”  I do love dogs and being a dog owner.  I appreciate cats and had one when I was a kid, but, not only am I subjectively a dog person, arguably, according to social science I’m the prototypical dog person.  Brooks:

1. Get a pet that matches your personality.

Dog owners might be happiest on average, but as the drug ads always emphasize, your results may vary. The Scientific American survey above found that owner personalities differ a great deal depending on the type of pet. For example, are you a mellow type? Fish owners consider themselves calm and emotionally stable. Highly educated? Hamster owners are the most likely to hold an advanced degree.

A group of Ph.D. psychologists (hamster lovers, perhaps) published a deeper look into pets and personality in the academic journal Anthrozoös in 2010. Using the Big Five” personality types, they found that dog people are higher in extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness than cat people. Cat people are higher in neuroticism and openness.

You might be tempted to note that dog owners are, well, kind of like dogs, and that cat owners are like cats. Knowing the types of matches that work well on average can help you decide on a new friend. But if you want to try to change your personality, you might decide to cross the cat-dog divide. For example, if you feel you should work on your openness, you might want to step outside your pet comfort zone and get a cat.

Well, how about that?!  I’m very high in extroversion and agreeableness and definitely above average in conscientiousness (especially for a liberal).  Anyway, this definitely has me intrigued to know more about the social science of pet ownership.  If only the American National Election Studies included a question on this!

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

3 Responses to I’m a dog person

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Where dogs fit in politically can go both ways. If the dog owner says he likes his dog and every dog should have a job and you shouldn’t let your kids roll on the ground while playing with your dog because he’s not a thing to be loved but one to work – that guy or gal has a good chance of being a Republican. Liberals tend to like/love animals of all sorts but do love the ones who live with them. And they are more likely to love their fellow humans and do things for them directly.
    I would say these are the two far right or left views with lots of folks in between.
    Great idea to turn these into polling questions!

  2. ohwilleke says:

    I’m a cat person. Dogs are for soup. And, my personality certainly isn’t a close fit to the dog person profile although it isn’t a perfect fit to either pole.

  3. homeys44 says:

    Dogs are overrated. A good dog is great, but many people seem to get dogs for protection, and those dogs don’t tend to be sweethearts. Too darn many in the city. Otoh, most every cat I’ve been around has been chill and even playful.

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