It's Official: Talking to Our Pets Is a Sign of Intelligence
Love talking to your dog? A new study has confirmed that it isn't because you're weird; it's because you're a GENIUS.
Pet owners sometimes get strange looks for having long conversations with their furry friends, but it turns out the act itself is a sign of intelligence.
People love to anthropomorphize, which is to talk about or to an object or animal as if it were human. Often we consider the act childlike or playful.
"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," Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago, told Quartz.
No other species has this tendency, Epley said.
The behavioral expert explained that anthropomorphizing comes from humans having active social cognition. We have minds and look for them in others, even inanimate objects.
There are a few additional reasons why humans anthropomorphize things, including a desire to be friends with the object and explain its unpredictable behavior.
So it makes total sense that humans would anthropomorphize their pets. Cats and dogs are fabulous creatures, and we want to be their friends AND have an explanation for why they keep destroying our furniture.
"For centuries, our willingness to recognize minds in nonhumans has been seen as a kind of stupidity, a childlike tendency toward anthropomorphism and superstition that educated and clear-thinking adults have outgrown," Epley said.
The professor thinks people with that point of view are mistaken, though.
"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," he said. "It is a reflection of our brain’s greatest ability rather than a sign of our stupidity."