Do you find yourself actually talking aloud to your pets? When you get home after a long day of work, do you share how your day turned out to you dog? Do you ask your cat what they did all day while you were gone?
If the answer is yes, then, congratulations! Science says that you do this things, not because you are crazy, but because it is a sign of your intelligence!
The act of attributing human minds or human characteristics to nonhuman like animals and objects, is the scientific phenomenon called as Anthropomorphism. According to Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago, humans are the only specie here on earth that do this ‘odd’ phenomenon.
“Historically, anthropomorphizing has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet.” Professor Epley explained.
“People who name objects and treat them as human are not delusional fools: The psychological mechanisms behind anthropomorphism are the same as those behind human-to-human social interaction.”
Apparently, holding tea parties with our stuff toy, giving cute names to our possessions, and having an imaginary conversation with our toys are activities we did as a child because our brain is wired to anthropomorphize! This means that we are programmed to see and perceive minds to animals and inanimate objects because we consider them as an extension of ourself!.
According to professor Epley, there are three primary reasons why we anthropomorphize an animal or an object. First, we can see a face on the non-human subjects; second, we would like to be friends with it; and third, we simply cannot explain and predict its behavior.
Talking to your pet or speaking with your possessions only show that you have an exceptional ability to see and detect faces. This means that you are good in understanding and communicating your emotions and feelings.
Hence, people with good anthropomorphizing skills are good in seeing faces on things or animals. Remember the time that you have perceived a remarkable formation in the sky? Just like why you are seeing a face on the house, these face detection are all thanks to your anthropomorphizing skills kicking in!
We talk and share our days with our pets because we love engaging with them. This is the reason why we consider them as a companion, a friend, a family, because we believe that they are like us… capable of thinking and feeling emotions just like all humans.
Anthropomorphizing is also the reason why we are very vocal in expressing our frustration on our possessions. Just like how we spat colorful words whenever our computers would hang, or when the car wouldn’t start, or when our cellphone just drained its battery.
“For centuries, our willingness to recognize minds in nonhuman has been seen as a kind of stupidity, a childlike tendency toward anthropomorphism and superstition that educated and clear-thinking adults have outgrown,” Professor Epley said, clarifying what anthropomorphic is.
“I think this view is both mistaken and unfortunate. Recognizing the mind of another human being involves the same psychological processes as recognizing a mind in other animals, a god, or even a gadget. It is a reflection of our brain’s greatest ability rather than a sign of our stupidity.”
Keeping this in mind, the next time someone gives you an odd look when you are speaking with your dog or cat- or even with your things, simply approach them and say, “Dude, it’s my social intelligence showing up!”