Spontaneous trait transference from dogs to owners

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Abstract:

This work found that participants attributed traits associated with breeds of dogs to their owners (indicating that a person may be perceived as more nervous if believed to own a Chihuahua, more heroic if believed to own a Collie, more aggressive if believed to own a Doberman, etc.). The findings further suggest that some people have folk theories that owners select breeds of dogs that resemble them dispositionally. When participants were unable to use this folk theory (when it was clear that the target people were not the dogs' owners and just randomly happened to share the same environment) those participants who owned dogs themselves still transferred traits; however those who did not own dogs themselves did not do so. These findings provide evidence of a novel associative effect in person impression and are discussed in terms of simple associative versus inferential processes.

Keywords: DOG OWNERS; IMPRESSION FORMATION; PERSON PERCEPTION; PETS; SPONTANEOUS TRAIT INFERENCE; TRAIT TRANSFERENCE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279304785643249

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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