Some people, who do not own pets, may watch their dog- or cat-adoring friends talking to their animals as if they were human (high-pitched, pet voice included) and wonder what on earth they think they are achieving. But it turns out that this behavior is far from silly — in fact, it’s a sign of intelligence.
While it’s common if you see children talking to their stuffed toys or animals, adults tend to outgrow this and are seen as odd if they do.
But there’s a scientific reason why humans tend to talk to animals or objects, and it’s linked to social intelligence.
One of the reasons we might anthropomorphize – give human form or attributes to an animal, plant, material or object, is because of our unique ability to recognize and find faces everywhere.
Dr. Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago and an anthropomorphism expert, told: ‘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’.
‘No other species has this tendency.’
He said whether or not we realize it, humans anthropomorphize objects and events all the time.
An expert in anthropomorphism — the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object — suggests that the science behind why people talk to animals is actually a sign of intelligence.
This behavior can also extend further afield. Do you sometimes think your computer is being stubborn or that your car is being malicious? Examples like this, of attributing human qualities to non-humans, reveals our unique intelligence, according to Epley.
“For centuries, our willingness to recognize minds in non-humans has been seen as a kind of stupidity, a childlike tendency toward anthropomorphism and superstition that educated and clear-thinking adults have outgrown,” he said. “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.”
If you are someone who loves to chat with your pets then feel free to carry on, it just showcases how smart you are!