A study carried out at the University of Leicester's School of Psychology has found that younger people who are disagreeable are more likely to prefer aggressive dogs, confirming the conventional wisdom that dogs match the personality of their owners.
Researchers found that low Agreeableness was the best predictor of a preference for those dogs seen as more aggressive, such as bull terriers or boxers. Individuals low in Agreeableness are typically less concerned with others' well-being and may be suspicious, unfriendly and competitive.
However, the study found no link between liking an aggressive dog and delinquent behaviour, or the possibility that liking an aggressive dog is an act of 'status display' to show off or attract romantic partners.
Dr Vincent Egan, lead researcher on the study, said:
"This type of study is important, as it shows assumptions are not the whole picture. It is assumed owners of aggressive dogs (or dogs perceived as aggressive) are antisocial show-offs. But we did not find persons who expressed a preference for aggressive dogs had committed more delinquent acts, or reported showing off more.
"However, we did find a preference for a dog with an aggressive reputation was related to being younger and being lower in Agreeableness (i.e., being less concerned with the needs of others, and being quicker to become hostile)."
The study looked at the reasons why some people prefer aggressive dog breeds. Professor Egan explained:
"A lot of human behaviour involves status display and dominance, and evolutionarily this helps with finding mates. Basic personality also influences a lot of our behaviour. By measuring both at the same time, we could see whether they each had an influence on liking aggressive dogs, or whether one was due to another.
"We were surprised mating effort did not have an influence here, but think it might be because we looked at a wider age range. A prefer
|Contact: Dr. Vincent Egan|
University of Leicester