If you are an animal lover you know how great it is to have a friendly face by your side. Whether you’re a cat person or a dog person nothing is better than having someone to love and care for who will ‘listen’ to you blab about your day.
While our pets can’t understand the things we are saying on the level we would like for them to be able to, they are still very important parts of our lives. Pets, especially dogs are so devoted and loving towards their owners that the connection they build with one another is truly remarkable. Sure, there are some people in this world who are just not ‘animal people’ but for the most part, we all have furry (or scaley) friends who are near and dear to our hearts.
Perhaps there are more advantages to having a pet than you might initially assume. While they do come with added responsibilities they also might be able to help you boost your overall intelligence depending on how you interact with them. Nicholas Epley who happens to be a behavioral science professor at the University of Chicago actually spoke to Quartz not too long ago and went over exactly that.
The act of anthropomorphism is something that this relates back to in some ways and so before diving into the topic, I would like to explain what that is. Anthropomorphism is basically our tendencies to assign ‘human minds’ to things that are ‘non-human’ objects/things. For instance, in the case of our dog, we would in our own minds make it more human-like. We would think of it as another human rather than ‘just a dog.’
According to Epley, we do this because it is a ‘natural byproduct’ and that it in many ways makes us as human beings ‘uniquely smart.’ No other species on this planet does this and so, it really makes us quite unique when you break things down. Epley is quite the expert on anthropomorphism and so when he covers it, we should all be taking notes.
“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.”
“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.”
Epley also happens to be the author of a book called ‘Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want.’ This book goes into great detail about the things noted above and really breaks things down. While we as humans sometimes name things like our cars, toys, bags, instruments, and so forth we are still able to tell them apart from real people.
We build a relationship with them but that relationship is unique in its own ways. This in all possible ways is our active and heightened social cognition presenting itself and doing its job. Sure, some people might not be capable of such and from there believe those who operate in this manner are completely nuts but that’s not quite the case.
According to People Magazine, Epley actually carried out a study in regards to all of this found that when it comes to anthropomorphizing our pets talking to them is one of the most common means. People tend to do this quite frequently but as they get older things reduce in regards as those carrying them out do not want to seem ‘weird.’ Of course, there will always be someone in this world who is willing to judge you for doing things like this but you should not be ashamed and you should feel free to chat with your dog, cat, snake, guinea pig, or even your snail.
What do you think about all of this? Do you speak to your pets on a more personal level or are you a bit closed off in this sense? I for one find myself talking to my dogs more than I talk to my friends and family.