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The Role of Coat Color and Ear Shape on the Perception of Personality in Dogs

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Abstract:

This study investigated a question related to people's perceptions of dog personality. We examined whether people attribute personality characteristics to dogs based on physical features of the dog, specifically, coat color and ear shape. In order to address this question, we presented participants with photographs of dogs in which a single physical characteristic of the dog, either coat color (black vs. yellow) or ear shape (pointy ears vs. floppy ears) had been manipulated. Participants (n = 124) completed an online survey in which they rated the personality of the dogs (one black, one yellow, one with pointy ears, and one with floppy ears) while viewing these photographs. Participants rated dog personality using a brief inventory of the Big Five personality dimensions (the Ten-Item Personality Inventory). Participants rated the yellow dog significantly higher than the black dog on the personality dimensions of Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability. The floppy-eared dog was rated significantly higher than the pointyeared dog on Agreeableness and Emotional Stability and significantly lower on Extraversion. These results indicate that people attribute different personality characteristics to dogs based solely on physical characteristics of the dog. These results have implications for how people judge personality variables in dogs, particularly during brief encounters where physical attributes of the animal are likely to be highly salient.

Keywords: BIG FIVE; DOGS; PERSONALITY; PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175303713X13534238631632

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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  • Anthrozoos is the journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology and is a vital forum for academic dialogue on human-animal relations. It is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that has enjoyed a distinguished history as a pioneer in the field since its launch in 1987. The key premise of Anthrozoos is to address the characteristics and consequences of interactions and relationships between people and non-human animals across areas as varied as anthropology, ethology, medicine, psychology, veterinary medicine and zoology. Articles therefore cover the full range of human animal relations, from their treatment in the arts and humanities, through to behavioral, biological, social and health sciences..

    Fast Track articles are uncorrected proofs of articles that have yet to be published in an issue.

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