What Is Anthropomorphizing?
Simply, anthropomorphizing is the act of attributing “human form or personality to things not human” (2). In other words, it’s giving human characteristics to or expecting them from animals, inanimate objects, natural phenomena, plants, and the like (3). The reverse of this is known as dehumanization when human beings are represented as nonhuman objects, which can be seen in historical acts such as the Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust (3).
Anthropomorphism is a mental process that occurs in practically everyone and research has discovered that the degree to which this common act occurs has significant consequences on someone’s life (4). Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago, said, “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” (1).
No other living creature besides human beings have the ability to identify human behavior in inanimate objects, so calling your dog
“baby” and your hamster “little man” is your intelligence talking, not you being a weirdo (1). When you’re able to find human characteristics in pets, plants, pens, computers, and more, it’s a sign of your brain’s creativity (1).
People anthropomorphize because the objects appear to have a face, we’d like to be friends, or we are curious about its unpredictable behavior (1). Human beings are naturally social
creatures, so responding to these three triggers doesn’t make you crazy, it makes you normal! And your normal is smart!