An Integrative Approach to Personality Research in Anthrozoology: Ratings of Six Species of Pets and their Owners

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In this paper, we identify two obstacles that have hindered the integration of personality research in anthrozoology. The first of these interrelated obstacles is the difficulty of obtaining large samples in anthrozoological research. Without large samples investigators must rely on replication studies to establish the generalizability of their findings. However, the second obstacle—the lack of a standard taxonomy of personality descriptors—makes it difficult to see whether findings replicate across studies. To address these issues and to stimulate a more integrative approach to personality studies, we: (a) provide normative data for personality ratings of dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, rabbits, and hedgehogs on 50 traits; (b) provide personality profiles of the owners of these six species; (c) provide the instrument on which the pet and human data were collected; and (d) demonstrate the viability of the internet as a tool for collecting large samples of personality data on pets. We show how the normative data can be used to convert findings from other studies into a standard-score metric that facilitates cross-study comparisons. Finally, we consider some limitations of this study and make a number of recommendations aimed to promote a more programmatic science of anthrozoology.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 1998

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