The Latest Cat Personality Results!

REMINDER: If you haven’t taken the cat personality survey (and you have a cat, of course), please head on over hre to take it:

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s participated in our study so far. We’ve been blown away by the sheer enthusiasm people have shown toward this study. Where often it’s difficult to get a good sample size, we’ve received information for over 1,300 cats in just one week! Remember, the largest study we’ve found so far consisted of 2,802 cats. We would love to have more. (There’s a certain ring to “Largest Study on Cat Personalities.” Guinness might not have that as an official record yet, but maybe we can convince them to change that.)

The survey we’re conducting is going to offer us so many different insights into how cats and humans interact. We hope to have a wealth of findings to share with you, though we’re not ready to share all of it just yet. For example, we’re seeing some statistically significant differences in personality between cats of different color. Some of those differences confirm conventional wisdom about cat colors and some do not. In order to avoid biased responding, we’re going to wait to reveal these cat color differences until the conclusion of the study.

However, you’ve come here for information, so let’s cut to the chase!

We were antsy to find out preliminary results, so we made a first pass at analyzing our results when we had 846 responses. (We’re up 907 as of today!) 64% of respondents provided information for a single cat, 27% gave them for 2, 6% for three, 2% for four, and 1% of them proved their mettle by responding for five cats. Often in surveys, there are clear examples of people trying to rush through the survey as quickly as possible. With this one, respondents went out of their way to give us much more information than we asked. For example 85% of those 1 percenters gave us a detailed summary of their fifth cat in the “Is there other information we should know” section. (Overall, 79% of respondents filled out this section for their cat. Some of them in heart-warming detail.)

From those 846 cats, we know the average for their “Big 5” personality traits. (These are traits that have been long established in human personality research.)

  • Conscientiousness: 5.09
  • Agreeableness: 5.20
  • Neuroticism: 4.61
  • Openness: 4.68
  • Extraversion: 4.58

What does this mean? To calculate these scores, we use one of the standard tools of the trade: the TIPI. (Ten Item Personality Inventory.) It asks takers to rate themselves (or their cat, in this case) in ten different areas on a scale of 1-7. There are pairs of questions that each correspond to a different Big 5 trait. Those pairs are added and then divided by two to get the average. Thus, each category has a high of 7 and a low of 1. A higher number means the subject shows that trait to a greater degree.

(If you’d like to calculate the scores for your own cat(s) (or yourself), we’ve made a basic Google sheet that will do this for you. Just click on over here and follow the directions.)

There are many (many) conclusions we hope to be able to glean from our results, but one intriguing first pass shows that just as with humans, cats’ personalities shift with age*. And exactly with the same trends: younger adult cats are higher in extraversion and neuroticism (emotional instability) and these two traits lessen with age. Also, cats (like humans) show a trend toward becoming more agreeable as they get older. Like a good wine, as they say.

(*Catveats: these were global, statistically significant trends, but it is not diagnostic about one particular cat. There are cats that buck this trend and that’s okay. Cats don’t take their marching orders from anyone, least of all cat personality theorists!

In addition this was cross sectional research – comparing cats across the age spectrum. A longitudinal study would confirm if this finding holds up. But with 1,200 cats in our sample, we are confident it will.)

So, what else can you do? For one thing, we’ve created a Facebook page (“Catroverts United“) specifically for discussing this vein of research. This should make it easier for us to share updates, and it will allow us to share stories and other information with you all. Feel free to add it if you’re on Facebook. We’re looking into getting other social media presences as well.

If you can continue to share the survey, that would be fantastic. Share it on social media. Send it to your friends. (But don’t take it multiple times. We’re all for as many responses as possible, but we don’t need to stuff the ballotbox.) Here’s the link, one more time: Thank you all!

Unitum feles,

Karol & Bryce

1 thought on “The Latest Cat Personality Results!”

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