College-age women view men as less masculine and less datable when pictured holding a cat, according to a new study published in the journal Animals. The findings provide evidence that pets play a role in women’s dating preferences.
“We wondered whether or not people’s relationships with pets influence their dating habits and how this might be impacted by visuals used in online dating practices,” said study author Lori Kogan, a professor at Colorado State University.
In the study, 1,388 heterosexual women aged 18–24 were shown two different pictures of one of two young adult males. One picture showed the man alone, while the other showed the same man holding a cat in his lap. After viewing each picture, the participants were asked to rate the man on several attributes and whether they would consider dating the man.
The women were also asked whether they considered themselves a “dog person”, “cat person”, “both a dog and cat person”, or “neither a dog nor cat person”.
Based on previous research, which has indicated that “a pet appears to increase a person’s rated attractiveness,” the researchers expected that men posing with cats would be considered more desirable dating partners. But that is not what they found.
“We found that most heterosexual women view a man pictured with a cat as less masculine, more feminine and less ‘dateable’ — for both long-term relationships and short encounters — than when pictured alone/with no animal,” Kogan told PsyPost.
However, the researchers found that the participants’ ratings differed based on whether they self-identified as a dog or cat person. “The caveat is that women who identify as a cat person (vs dog person, both or neither) viewed these men as more dateable – both for short- and long-term dating,” Kogan said.
“Care should be taken in generalizing these results. This was a predominantly White population of young heterosexual women. More research should be done with different populations, other countries, and other types of animals,” she noted.
The study, “Not the Cat’s Meow? The Impact of Posing with Cats on Female Perceptions of Male Dateability“, was authored by by Lori Kogan and Shelly Volsche.
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