HBR (Harvard Business Review) WTF?

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The March-April edition of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) (yes, I get the HBR and yes, I read it and yes, I can’t afford anything in the ads) had an article entitled “Cat Owners Are More Cautious Consumers Than Dog Owners.”  The article, with “data” to support it, claims that because dogs are perceived as being more open and adaptable while cats are generally more wary and more aloof that this translates to dog people and cat people displaying the same behaviors when it comes to consumer practices and other behaviors were perceptions of risk come into play.  The premise is that having a dog or cat in your life reminds you of these traits and that we are influenced by these traits in our decision making.

The article explains that when the authors discussed dogs or cats with consumers and then asked questions about purchases or investments, those presented with dogs were more likely to think about and be receptive to the “upside” while those presented with cats were more likely to worry about the “downside.” In other words, dogs were associated with opportunity while cats were associated with risk and these associations impacted decision making.

The article went even further. It asserts that this same risk vs. cautious approach was evident in how different pet parents responded to Covid-19.  Using information from the American Veterinary Medical Association, they calculated the share of dog and cat households in each state and then examined the per capita Covid 19 cases in a set period (January to November 2020).  Mapping the 2 data sets showed that people in predominate dog states were more likely to have caught Covid-19 than those in predominantly cat states.  From this they conclude that dog people were more likely to have been adventuresome than cat people (even after accounting for a “state’s political leaning”).

So, what does this mean?  Taken at face value it must mean that every small business owner is a dog person (no cat person would ever take the risk of owning their own business).  But what about others?  Are all start up founders dog people?  Are all venture capitalists dog people? Is Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan Chase) a cat person and Greg Becker (Silicon Valley Bank) a dog person? Or is this just nonsense and a good reason to cancel my subscription to the Harvard Business Review?

Thanks for reading.

Pet Camp has been providing San Francisco’s best pet care since 1997.  We are both cat and dog people so maybe we’ve balanced our risk taking just right.  If you have questions about your dog or cat give us a call; questions about your consumer decision making should be directed to your financial planner and about your health care decision making to your primary physician.
Source: Harvard Business Review March-April 2023 pages 28-29