Potential risk factors for aggression and playfulness in cats: examination of a pooling fallacy using Fe-BARQ as an example

Kmecova, Noema Gajdoš, Peťková, B, Kottferová, J , Wannell, R.S. and Mills, Daniel (2021) Potential risk factors for aggression and playfulness in cats: examination of a pooling fallacy using Fe-BARQ as an example. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7 . p. 1132. ISSN 2297-1769

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.545326

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Potential risk factors for aggression and playfulness in cats: examination of a pooling fallacy using Fe-BARQ as an example
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Abstract

Using a popular method of behaviour evaluation which rates the intensity of behaviour in different contexts, we demonstrate how pooling item scores relating to a given construct can reveal different potential risk factors for the dependent variable depending on how the total score is constructed. We highlight how similar simple total scores can be constructed through very different combinations of constituent items. We argue for the importance of examining individual item score distributions, and the results from different intensity thresholds before deciding on the preferred method for calculating a meaningful dependent variable. We consider simply pooling individual item scores which conflate context with intensity to calculate an average score and assuming this represents a biologically meaningful measure of trait intensity is a fallacy.
Specifically using four items that describe intercat aggression and eleven that describe playfulness in cats in Fe-BARQ, we found sex and neuter status, social play and fearfulness were consistently significant predictors for intercat aggression scores; and age, age when obtained, social play and fearfulness were significant predictors of playfulness scores. However, the significance of other factors such as scratching varied with the threshold used to calculate to the total score. We argue that some of these inconsistent variables may be biologically and clinically important and should not be considered random error. Instead they need to be evaluated in the context of other available evidence.

Keywords:behaviour, cat, C-BARQ, Fe-BARQ, hypothesis testing research, hypothesis generating research, pooling fallacy
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D210 Clinical Veterinary Medicine
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D390 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:43646
Deposited On:26 Jan 2021 11:38

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