Talking to your pets and plants may be a sign of intelligence

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It's completely normal - we all do it!

As children, we don’t bat an eyelid when we hear them talking to their toys, pets or even floral arrangements. But as adults, it’s an unspoken taboo to start replicating the same behaviour in public. However, that’s not to say we don’t do it behind closed doors! So why do we anthropomorphize animals and plants?

Why do we anthropomorphize animals?

why do we anthropomorphize animals

Image source: Pixabay

If you’ve caught yourself talking to your pets in a baby voice despite knowing they don’t understand you, then you’re not alone. And we’re pleased to say that there’s actually nothing wrong with you!

A famous example is in Tom Hanks’ film Castaway, where he “befriends” a volleyball, whom he names as Wilson. It was funny, dramatic and upsetting to see the events that unfold where his character only had a volleyball as a companion.

The evidence would point towards something being wrong with someone if they were talking to inanimate objects or pets that obviously can’t respond. But it’s actually a sign of intelligence according to Nicholas Epley, a professor of Behaviour Science at the University of Chicago.

“It’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet.”

As amusing as it sounds, we actually do this to all sorts of objects! We might say the MRT has given up, or described our laptop as being lazy.

why do we anthropomorphize animals

Image source: Pixabay

But why do we anthropomorphize animals? Professor Epley suggests because it helps us understand it better and also because we’d like to be friends with it.

We all give our pets names (some more forgiving than others!). The names we assign to our furry companions help explain the unpredictability of their actions. “Bouncer can be so hyperactive sometimes! He needs to spend ages in the park just to work off that nervous energy.” And in short, we do this to make our pets seem slightly more human.

So if a friend happens to ask why do we anthropomorphize animals, you can reassure them it’s a normal and sociable thing we all do!

Written by

Vinnie Wong