As adults, we think it’s quaint when kids talk to their stuffed animals or dolls as if they’re human. But chances are, you’ve named your car Martha and tell every passenger that she’s kind of a diva when it snows. Despite being deemed weird and socially unacceptable, most humans assign human traits to nonhuman objects or animals — which is called anthropomorphism. This also includes assigning human characteristics to our pets, of course.
And according to a new study, talking to your dog may indicate you’re intelligent. Pretty cool, right?
This practice of anthropomorphism has actually been going on for centuries. If you look through a history book, you’d probably find hundreds of ships, estates, and weapons with a given name. As linguistics professor Ingrid Piller from Macquarie University explained to Quartz, assigning a name to an object can be a way of rationalization.
via giphyShe said, “If you’re a legendary knight, you trust and defend your life through your weapon, and if you’re on a ship a few hundred years ago, your life is at the mercy of the vessel. You name the vessel because it becomes your most important companion. You want to believe it has vested interest in keeping you safe — even though it truly has no interests at all.”
So next time you’re explaining the importance of manners (in great detail) to your dog, or tell Martha the car that she needs to pull herself together in the morning, don’t feel silly, because you’re actually just highly intelligent.