mr. zilla goes to town

Thursday, May 12, 2005

dogs are the best people...

... or at least if owned by the best people, seem likely to bear a passing resemblance to the best people.

So says the annals of Psychological Science, 15(5):361, May 2004:

Research Report: Do Dogs Resemble Their Owners?
Michael M. Roy and Nicholas J.S. Christenfeld

We examined whether the frequent casual reports of people resembling their pets are accurate by having observers attempt to match dogs with their owners. We further explored whether any ability of observers to make such matches is due to people selecting dogs who resemble them, in which case the resemblance should be greater for predictable purebreds than for nonpurebreds, or is due to convergence, in which case the resemblance should grow with duration of ownership.

Forty-five dogs and their owners were photographed separately, and judges were shown one owner, that owner's dog, and one other dog, with the task of picking out the true match. The results were consistent with a selection account: Observers were able to match only purebred dogs with their owners, and there was no relation between the ability to pair a person with his or her pet and the time they had cohabited. The ability to match people and pets did not seem to rely on any simple trait matching (e.g., size or hairiness). The results suggest that when people pick a pet, they seek one that, at some level, resembles them, and when they get a purebred, they get what they want.

Surely this was not a cheap stunt by both the researchers and the journal to increase their profile. Surely!


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