Psychology of dog, cat and pet owners

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

How pets impact your mood and personality

Studies have found that pet owners are generally happier, less lonely and have a higher self esteem than those who don't own any pets provided that all other factors are constant.

But what's the connection between higher self esteem and owning a pet?
I am sure you know that rejection is one of the factors that lowers self esteem and makes some people feel unloved.

We all know that when a person feels loved and accepted he will feel more valuable and as a result will have a higher self esteem. Now what pets do is that they fulfill the need for acceptance of some people to a certain degree.

A pet will usually be happy when its owner is around thus making him feel loved and accepted. This unconditional love makes the person feel good about himself, reduces his loneliness and improves his mood.

Pets are extensions to your identity

Anything a person owes whether its a car or a pet represents an extension to his personality and psychological identity. People own things that best represent what's going on in their inner world. For example people who feel so special always try to drive cars that are not that popular just to show that they are not like anyone else. (see What your car says about your personality)

When it comes to pets it works the same. People own pets that best represent their personalities. For example those who own cats or small dogs are relatively more agreeable than those who own huskies or rottweilers.

Of course more than one person could own the same breed of dogs for different reasons but in all cases there will be something in the dog that makes the person believes it best represents him even if that thing wasn't apparent to others. (see also What people actions say about their personalities)

Selfishness and pets

Pet owners are in most cases rated low on selfishness. A selfish person is the one who believes that he doesn't have enough resources to distribute on others. Because owning a pet is a time consuming task you can hardly find a selfish person owning a pet.

Psychology of Dog vs cat owners

One study has shown that people who own dogs might not mind to own cats as well but those who owned cats didn't like the idea of owning a dog.

Studies claim that Dog owners are generally more extroverted, confident and assertive than cat owners. The same study claimed that cat owners are more submissive and less assertive than dog owners.

While this study might seem accurate in some cases still there are some exceptions to it. Another study has found that dog owners are generally more mentally healthy than cat owners.

Cat owners were found to be more emotional, creative and curious than dog owners.
Whether these studies are accurate or not the takeaway is that you can know a lot about a person once you know which pet he owns provided that you double check your findings using any other way.

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