At last, the proof we’ve all been waiting for: people who talk to their pets aren’t completely crazy, they’re actually super intelligent.
Knew it. KNEW. IT.
Animals I can accept, but apparently if you talk to objects such as cars and plants, that’s also a sign of intelligence. And on that, I’m not convinced.
The term for this behaviour is anthropomorphism, which essentially means giving human minds and names to non-humans, including animals and objects.
Nicholas Epley, behavioural science professor at the University of Chicago, told Quartz:
Historically, anthropomorphising 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.
The term also means giving non-humans, human traits such as a record player being ‘stubborn’ if it doesn’t work properly and so on.
If you do this, it means your brain is programmed to see and perceive minds.
Apparently, there are three primal reasons why we might anthropomorphise an object.
Firstly, the non-human subject might look like it has a face, secondly we might want to be friends with the subject, or, thirdly, we can’t explain its unpredictable behaviour.
Sadly, it could be a sign of loneliness. According to Quartz, the lonelier we are, the stronger this trigger becomes. An example of this is Wilson, Tom Hanks’ best friend — a volleyball with a face on it — in the film Castaway, or indeed Milky Joe from The Mighty Boosh.
According to Mr Epley, those of you who name objects and treat them as human are not delusional at all, the ‘psychological mechanisms behind anthropomorphism are the same as those behind human-to-human social interaction’.
For centuries, our willingness to recognise 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.
I think this view is both mistaken and unfortunate.
Recognising the mind of another human being involves the same psychological processes as recognising 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.
So the next time you’re caught out talking to plants, animals or whatever, you can now throw out the intelligence card.