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Disagreeable People Likely to Prefer Aggressive Dogs

Update Date: May 24, 2012 02:17 PM EDT

Conventional wisdom says that dogs often resemble their owners. At least of a part of this theory has perhaps been proved right with a latest study.

According to researchers at the University of Leicester's School of Psychology in the U.K., disagreeable people prefer aggressive dogs.

The study published in the journal Anthrozoos, which surveyed 235 people in the U.K. and North America, found that, "persons lower in Agreeableness, higher in Neuroticism and Conscientiousness, and of younger age actively preferred a dog perceived as aggressive."

The authors suggested that people who liked aggressive dogs were also indifferent towards well-being of others, more suspicious, unfriendly and competitive. However, there is no evidence that these people had any increased signs or records of criminal behavior of any kind.

"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," said Vincent Egan, a clinical psychologist and lead author of the study.

Also, what came as a surprise was that contrary to the common perception, a small percentage of people who liked aggressive dogs also showed signs of carefulness, reliability and thoughtfulness in their actions.

"We were surprised to find a small association between a preference for aggressive dogs and greater Conscientiousness," Egan said.

Egan continued, that these studies generally restrict to certain age -groups, and hence could be stereotyping people. Whereas, the outcome might turn out to be different in a different condition. Younger people seem to be more likely to prefer an aggressive dog, however, that might not be the case as the person grows older.

"Studies of this kind tend to only look at a restricted age ranges, which may exaggerate findings which do not occur across the entire lifespan, so we believe a stereotype is always true, whereas it may only be true under certain conditions," he said.

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