Pet owners around the world, if not all then the most of them, have everyday conversations with their pets, the way they would talk to human beings. They wish good morning to their pets, ask them if they are hungry and if they want to go for a walk as if their pets understand them and will respond any second now.
Do you talk to your pet (be it a dog, cat, or guinea pig) the way you talk to your friends? If so, we’re sure that you’ve heard things such as “Are you nuts?”, and noticed other people get freaked out by your behavior.
Perhaps you, too, sometimes wonder why you’re acting like this. But, what if we reassure you that your habit of speaking to your pets or even plants is a sign of intelligence? You aren’t a crazy cat (or dog) lady; you’re merely smart. That’s called anthropomorphizing, which means the attribution of human traits, feelings, or intentions to non-human entities.
To quote Nicholas Epley, a University of Chicago instructor in the area of behavioral science, – “Historically, anthropomorphizing has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet.”
The ability to perceive non-human things as a human is called anthropomorphism. Usually, when children do it, we find it adorable, but when adults do it, it is frowned upon and seen as something odd. Anthropologist experts think that perceiving human traits in an animal, a plant or even an object is a sign of intelligence.
According to a study conducted in Harvard, in 2011, a group of people was shown photos of small baby animals and adult animals, to which most of the subjects selected the baby animals, and agreed that they’d give them human names and would refer to them while using gender terms.
Not only that; if they could own a small baby animal, they’d name it and talk to it, like they speak to human beings. No other living creature besides humans has such an ability to identify human behavior in inanimate objects.
Although naming your pets and inanimate objects are the most popular way of anthropomorphizing, it isn’t the only one. Giving your pets character traits also comes under anthropomorphism. Calling your dog your “baby” or your cat as a “grumpy old man” is not you being weird, it is the intelligence talking.
Our brains are complicated beyond anybody’s explanation. Years of research and scientific studies and yet we’re still not sure what all our mind is capable of doing. Trying to find human characteristics in inanimate objects like cars, pens, toys or anything at all is a sign of your brain’s creativity.
Anthropomorphism not only affects humans, but it also affects our pets. Studies have demonstrated that, if you keep talking to your puppy, it learns to differentiate among words and learns your gestures. Dogs have been human companions for years and, therefore, they have evolved accordingly.
When you talk to your dog, it can understand your words and your feelings. Cats do not understand your words, as much as dogs do. However, they also can recognize their owner’s voice and commands. Cats, in fact, use more than 16 different ways to communicate. (They do hear you, they merely don’t care).
There are three primal reasons why humans will try to anthropomorphize an object: The inanimate object looks like it has a face, so we would like to be friends with it, or else we can’t explain its unpredictable behavior, and we are curious. By verifying how every one of these triggers works, we may understand why this tendency is both essential to human survival as well as intelligence.
Our brain gets confused when it sees an object with eyes and tries to perceive it as human. Put toy eyes on a fridge, and you will want to talk to it, or at least name it! No, you aren’t a delusional psycho; it is basic science, and as social animals, humans wish to talk to everyone they can and befriend them: it’s in our nature.
Next time someone calls you a weirdo because you’re talking to a dog on the street, tell them to get their facts straight.
This article (Talking to your Pet is a Sign of Intelligence, According to Science) was published by Thinking Humanity and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to thinkinghumanity.com.