What Does Your Pet Say About Your Personality?

There are many age old debates out there: tomayto or tomahto? Ketchup or mustard? Crust or no crust? Gryffindor or Slytherin? One battle stands out in particular that resonates with everyone: Are you a dog person or a cat person? And what exactly does your answer say about you? 

Research presented by the Association for Psychological Science explained that there are distinct personality differences for dog people and cat people. Dog lovers were shown to be more outgoing, energetic, and more likely to follow rules. Fans of cats were introverted, sensitive, non-conformist when it came to rule following, and had higher intelligence scores. These personality tropes are polar opposites, and from what I found, it seems that Monmouth students lean more towards loving dogs.

As someone who has experienced the joys and hardships of having both cats and dogs, I’d say having a dog is a more fun experience. A question like this, though, is not black and white. Many students at Monmouth have both cats and dogs, and their personalities are a combination of both. So while sometimes I love to walk my dog through the park and say hello to everyone I see, I also don’t mind relaxing at home by myself with my cat,Tommy, nearby.

Denise Guastello, an associate professor of psychology at Carroll University Wisconsin, agreed that pet preference does have a strong link to personality.

“It makes sense that a dog person is going to be livelier, because they’re going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog… Whereas, if you’re more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you’re more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn’t need to go outside for a walk,” explained Guastello.

An interesting factor we don’t really think of when it comes to what animal our pets are, is health. It seems that dog owners have overall better health than cat owners and non-pet owners alike. Researchers have found that cat owners have higher body mass indexes, higher blood pressure, and a worse general health status. Cat owners were also found to exercise less than the others.

Natorye Miller, a sophomore political science major, did not realize at first the correlation between her pet preference and her personality. “I prefer dogs mainly because that’s what I grew up with,” Miller explained. When asked if she thought this choice reflected on her personality, Miller replied that she didn’t think so, besides the fact that she is “very energetic.” 

Miller ran track in high school and partakes in intramural sports now, so it seems that her choice matches up personality wise as well as health wise. Obviously this is not the case with everyone, as even though I am outgoing and extroverted, I am not very physically active, besides playing with my dog. 

Stephanie Merlis, a sophomore business marketing major, said, “I’m a dog person because they’re more attentive and fun. Cats are cute, but they can be lazy and boring after a while.” Merlis also found similarities in her choice with her personality. “I think the fact that I like dogs matches my outgoing personality.” 

But Merlis also has some feline qualities as well, something all college students can relate to. “I also have some traits that are cat like, such as taking long naps.” 

This theme carries over to professors as well as students. Moyi “Pony” Jia, a lecturer of communication, identifies as a dog person for both pet preference and personality. “Personally I think I am a ‘dog person,’” Pony explained. “[I am] passionate, warm, and friendly. I also prefer to be with friends with [these kind of people.] ‘Dog people’, I believe, usually care more about emotional connections with others. They are also more sensitive and responsive to the nonverbal behavior of people around them.” 

Mary Harris, a specialist professor of communication, reveals another factor in the equation: the breed of animal. Harris explained that each breed of dog has their own distinct personality, and that the type of dog you bring into your house says a lot about you. “I prefer bigger dogs because they are super friendly and active,” Harris said of her own dogs. 

I asked many students what they classified themselves as, and the response back was overwhelming: “DOG,” “Dogs til’ the death of me,” “Dogs are my spirit animal,” and “Dogggg!” were just a few of the responses. Two people classified themselves as both, and no one came forward as a cat person. 

This response highlights some of the best traits about Monmouth students: They are energetic, outgoing, and friendly. Our campus is one where students and professors alike will smile at you as you walk to Bey Hall, even if they don’t know you, where strangers come together to maneuver down the slippery, blocked off stairs on the residential side, and where everyone will humor you when you ask them if they are a dog person or a cat person.