Pet owners and animal lovers are being invited to take part as ‘citizen scientists’ in a new research study at the University of Hull.
The project aims to find out more about how animals’ minds work and how this shapes their behaviour.
Understanding how animals think and act is important to society, from helping us understand our own brains and behaviour, to identifying solutions to major global problems like welfare and conservation.
Dr Blake Morton, Lecturer of Psychology at the University of Hull, is leading the study, which focuses on cats and dogs.
Dr Morton said: “Humans share their lives with cats and dogs, but studies on their cognition and personality pale in comparison to what is known about other major branches of the animal kingdom, particularly primates and birds.”
According to the RSPCA, we are a nation of pet lovers - with an estimated 51 million pets owned across the UK.
Members of the public can take part in the research by completing a questionnaire about their own cat or dog. The questionnaire will take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and ideally two or more people should fill out a questionnaire on the same animal (e.g., a family pet).
The questionnaire includes questions about how innovative your animal is, and how this is related to other factors such as personality, experience, and general health.
Volunteers may also be asked to send the questionnaire to other pet owners who might be interested in taking part in the study.
Dr Morton said: “As a volunteer, you will be given a rare and exciting opportunity to participate in an international programme on two of the most iconic and beloved animals on the planet – cats and dogs.
“By helping us collect data, volunteers will also be helping to promote the educational and professional development of undergraduate and postgraduate students from local universities that are involved in our Cat & Dog Project.”
If you’re completing a questionnaire, please fill it out on a cat and/or dog that you know relatively well (e.g. minimum one year observing that individual’s behaviour).
To volunteer or for more information, please email Dr Morton at:
Once you receive the questionnaire, please return it within three weeks to the above email address so it can be added to the database.
Please note that participation is entirely voluntary and if you do not wish to complete the questionnaire upon receiving it, there is no obligation.