If people ever try to make you feel bad or dumb for talking to your dog or even your plants or car, politely inform them that—according to science—it is they that are the dumb ones for not talking to their animals or Toyota Camry.
Anthropomorphizing, or assigning human characteristics to non-human objects, is a sign of intelligence, according to Nicholas Epley, a behavioral science professor at the University of Chicago, who recently spoke to Quartz.
“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,” Epley told Quartz. “No other species that has this tendency.”
But why do we do this? The practice apparently goes back thousands of years. 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,” Macquarie University linguistics professor Ingrid Piller told Quartz. “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.”
This is, without a doubt, great news for pet and plant owners. Don’t forget to tell your cat about it!