The Influence of Companion Animals on Owner Perception: Gender and Species Effects

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There is some evidence that the presence of a companion animal influences perceptions of the psychological attributes of its owner. The present study investigated how these effects vary by pet species and owner gender. A sample of 542 students rated slides of a man or woman accompanied by a cat, a dog or alone using 36 adjectives. These adjectives were subsequently grouped into four clusters labelled 'Nice', 'Nasty', 'Style' and 'Action'. Statistical analyses revealed that the female target person was rated as significantly nicer, more stylish and more active with the dog than with the cat. The male target person was rated as nicer, more stylish and more active with the cat than the dog. This pattern was contrary to that hypothesized, which was based on traditional gender and human-pet stereotypes. Discussion focuses on the changing nature of gender stereotypes and the resulting complexity of owner-pet perceptions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 1996

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