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Why do owners look like their pets?

If you thought the idea of owners looking like their pets was just a notion - think again. It’s actually got some scientific research behind it - and it’s got a name. The mere-exposure effect. This psychological phenomenon claims that humans have a tendency to develop a preference for something, merely due to being familiar with it.

After looking at our own faces in the mirror throughout our lives, it follows that we’d pick dogs who awaken that same comforting sense of familiarity. Psychologists also suggest that as part of human evolution, we look for partners that look like us. Over time, it’s been imprinted into our minds that familiar things are more attractive to us and subsequently influence our decisions.

And it’s not only a physical likeness we prefer - it’s not uncommon for our dog’s personality to evolve and show traits similar to our own. Human personality is based on where we sit in the five personality dimensions; neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness, and where we measure against them. Nowadays there is a doggy version of this, and dog personalities have behavioural measures such as, sociability, play drive, food, owner contact, curiosity, fear/insecurity, and aggression/threat behaviours.

A study by Borbala Turcsan at Budapest University, found that some personality traits in humans are reflected in our choice of dog. Even if a pup has a slightly different personality trait, it can, and often does take on the same personality traits as its owner. In the study, the similarity of dog owners and their dogs even tracked higher than the similarity levels between married couples and friends!

Since humans first started domesticating dogs (over 30,000 years ago) we appear to have bred them into creatures of our own image, forging an unbreakable, emotional bond that crosses our own species natural boundaries. Mankind’s best friend indeed!

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