Facebook reinforces stereotypes about cat people and dog people

Researchers at the social network sorted through the profiles of about 160,000 people who shared photos of cats or dogs and found that those who prefer Felix over Fido are more likely to be single.

Profile data and posts reveal cat aficionados more likely to be single and less popular than dog lovers

Cat people really are different than dog people, according to researchers at Facebook who sorted through the profiles of about 160,000 people who shared photos of cats or dogs. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Congratulations, Facebook!

You've single-handedly managed to reinforce a whole bunch of age-old stereotypes about spinsters and crazy cat ladies.

Facebook researchers recently dug their claws into the profiles of about 160,000 Americans who shared photos of cats or dogs (or both) on the social network.

They divided them into two groups — "cat people" and "dog people" — and discovered that about 30 per cent of people from Team Cat were single, compared to 24 per cent of people on Team Dog.

  • Are you a cat person or a dog person? Defend your pet preference in the comments section.

"Looking at the Facebook research, I think it tends to find what it wanted to find," Heather Marcoux told the Calgary Eyeopener.

The freelance pet writer from Red Deer, Alta., is referring to the findings published in this blog.

While this implies that cat people are more likely to be single than dog people, Marcoux said it could also just be that people who are single choose to adopt cats because "they're a lot easier to take care of."

"Dogs are super needy and sometimes it just makes sense to adopt a dog when you've got somebody else in your life to divide all that walking with."

Cat people have fewer Facebook friends than dog people, according to a recent study done by data scientists at the social network. (Vadim Ghirda/The Associated Press)

Dog people more outgoing

Facebook looked at how many friends both groups had and found that, on average, dog people have 26 more than cat people.

"Like their extroverted pets, dog people make more connections online," Facebook data scientists said.

However, cat people are better at expressing their feelings online.

"They're talking about when they're tired, when they're happy and when they're grumpy," said Marcoux. "Whereas the dog people are kind of like dogs in the sense that they're just mostly posting updates about feeling excited."

By measuring Facebook page likes, researchers found that cat people are "especially fond of fantasy, sci-fi and anime, while dog people like love stories and things about, well, dogs."

'The dog people are kind of like dogs in the sense that they’re just mostly posting updates about feeling excited,' says Heather Marcoux, an Alberta freelance pet writer. (Heather Marcoux/Facebook)

The Facebook research did not look at the personality traits of big dog people (think golden retriever or poodle) and little dog people (think shih tzu or chihuahua) — or people with multiple pets.

Marcoux owns two cats and two dogs. So what does that say about her?

"Well, it says I also own, like, four vacuums."

Feline fancier or dog lover? We hear what your pet might reveal about your personality. 6:19

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener


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