Are emotionally attached companion animal caregivers conscientious and neurotic? Factors that affect the human-companion animal relationship

J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2015;18(3):239-58. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2014.988333. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Few studies have examined how personality traits may be related to the amounts and types of attachments humans have toward companion animals (pets). In this study, 1,098 companion animal guardians (owners) completed a survey that included the Big Five Inventory, the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, and the Pet Attachment Questionnaire. Each participant chose whether he or she identified as a Cat Person, Dog Person, Both, or Neither. Results indicated that neuroticism, conscientiousness, choosing a dog as a favorite pet, and identifying as a Cat Person, Dog Person, or Both predicted affection for a pet. Conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness decreased avoidant attachment to pets, and neuroticism increased anxious attachment to pets. Both dogs and cats could benefit from pet owners who are conscientious, and there may be some benefits of neuroticism in pet owners. The findings of this study will advance understanding of the human-animal bond. As this understanding increases, measurements of human attachment and personality may be useful for the development of tools that could assist shelter employees and veterinarians in counseling people about pet ownership.

Keywords: attachment; companion animals; human–animal bond; personality; pets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • California
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Human-Animal Bond*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders
  • Object Attachment
  • Ownership*
  • Personality Tests
  • Personality*
  • Pets / psychology*
  • Young Adult