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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 07-Jun-15

 


Sunday 07-Jun-15

Are you a cat person or a dog person?

If you have a cat or a dog, you may easily answer this question. Or you may know people who own cats or dogs. Can you complete the sentence 'A cat/dog person...'?

The stereotypical cat person sees the cat partly as a casual friend who is mostly independent and needs little more than feeding. The dog person has a close friendship with a greater loyalty contract. The cast person may well pander to the cat's wishes as the cat trains them, unlike the dog person where the emphasis is on the person training the dog.

Me? I'm a dog person. I've got two Golden Retrievers, who I love for their daft and endlessly good nature. In fact I subdivide dog ownership further as I look with disdain at those with a toy dog ("rat on a stick") or tight-skinned, teeth-baring fighters. I like friendly, obedient dogs. Perhaps this is a reason why I am wary of cats, who have a very limited form of domestication.

Looking more abstractly at this, what is actually going on is an exercise in polarisation, where we define ourselves and others using a black/white polar scale. If you are not an X person you must be a Y person. We can of course also use other categories, such as being an Apple or PC person, rich or poor, native or foreign, etc.

Such stereotyping is inaccurate, but we do it all the time, simply because it makes life easier and is good enough for many situations. It goes particularly astray when it leads us to treat others with disrespect or contempt, but most of the time it is relatively harmless.


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