COMMENT: This is a ridiculous study dressed up in overly complicated scientific language to try and equate domestic cat behaviour with psychopathy, deviant behaviour exclusive to humans. It’s completely idiotic. It’s click-bait science. When you read the study, it appears to be deliberately dressed up in almost unintelligible language to try and give the topic credence; to make it look scientific and useful. It’s baloney. It’s a bunch of scientists who want to create a study to try and benefit themselves. Frankly, I’m tired of scientists using unintelligible language to try and make themselves seem intelligent. They need to learn to write clear English.
It appears that somebody dreamt up the idea perhaps over a cup of tea or a beer in a pub: “Oh, cats are like psychopaths, let’s do a study on it and publish it online. It’ll be fun and who cares about harming the image of domestic cats. Who cares about potentially feeding cat and animal abuse.”
Because when you describe cats as psychopaths or even hint at it, there’s going to be some idiotic animal abuser out there who will pick up on this in the tabloid news media and decide that he has to harm a ‘psychopathic cat’ for his own pleasure. He is doing the world a service.
I would argue that these four female scientists are acting irresponsibly. And the news media have probably misinterpreted their unintelligible report in any case. It is written by scientists for scientist. Reporters are not going to understand it. For example, the study begins like this: “We operationalised the triarchic model of psychopathy (boldness, meanness, and disinhibition) in domestic cats using a cat triarchic (CAT-Tri) questionnaire.”
What the hell does that mean? You have to guess. My guess is that they’re trying to decide whether cats are psychopaths through their behaviour. They hint in that sentence that cats are mean and operate without inhibitions. Complete BS.
And in the discussion section of their report which is normally reserved for conclusions, they don’t come to any conclusions. This is how they end their report: “Overall, the research demonstrates that owner reports of cat behavior generate themes relevant to triarchic psychopathy factors such as aggression (meanness), fearlessness (boldness), and disobedience (disinhibition).”
What does that mean for God’s sake? What does “generate themes relevant to triarchic psychopathy factors” mean? It’s all dressed up mumbo-jumbo.
The basic premise for the research is entirely wrong. You don’t project psychopathic human behaviour onto domestic cats. The scientists are assessing domestic cats through the lens of human behavioural problems. It’s ridiculous. It’s unhelpful. They should know better.
There are too many scientists, too eager to create studies to improve their curriculum vitae and many of the studies are frankly useless. If they aren’t inaccurate, they might be biased and if they are biased the study topic is unhelpful.
It wouldn’t surprise me if these four scientists were the kind of people who dislike cats. Bias is present within scientists. They are no different to anybody else. Can they keep their bias out of their studies? Sometimes they can’t. I have written about one such scientist.
Forget this study. Consign it to the dustbin. You can’t equate psychopathic human behaviour with feline behaviour. It’s as simple as that and it’s foolhardy to try and it may damage the image of the domestic cat.
The scientists and the study: Rebecca Evans (University of Liverpool, UK), Minna Lyons (Liverpool John Moores University), Gayle Brewer, Emily Bethell. A domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) model of triarchic psychopathy factors: Development and initial validation of the CAT-Tri+ questionnaire.
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