Have you ever attributed a human emotion to a stuffed animal or a pet? How about to a non-living entity, like the government, or to a natural phenomenon, like the wind? Anthropomorphism is the process by which we ascribe human emotions and motivations to inanimate objects, concepts, phenomena, or other species. 

Recent posts on Anthropomorphism

Jealousy In Animals and Envy in Humans

By Peter Toohey Ph.D. on October 29, 2016 in Annals of the Emotions
Jealousy is usually said to be a character flaw in humans and in animals. But is it? Could learning to be jealous simply be the reflection of a normal character type?

Think Twice Before Giving Medical Marijuana to Your Pet

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on October 12, 2016 in Animals and Us
It would be nice to think medical marijuana could cure epilepsy in dogs and anxiety in cats. But there are problems with the use of cannabis in veterinary medicine.

The Impact of Devotional Practices on Religious Belief

Although purely devotional practices seem to reinforce explicit religious beliefs, they seem to have little effect on either implicit religious representations or their influence.

Why Your Dog Thinks You Are The Best Thing Ever

The reason why your dog thinks you are so awesome may be related to genetics. (And the fact that you are awesome.)

Interview: The Hidden Life of Trees

By Rachel Clark on September 19, 2016 in Mothering Nature
"To regulate the destruction of nature by law is not half as effective as loving nature." ~ Peter Wohlleben

Should You Share Your Cocktail Hour With Your Dog?

Evidence shows that sharing alcoholic beverages with your dog is a bad practice.

Why Theological Waywardness Is Inevitable

Natural penchants of mind, such as anthropomorphism, dispose people to think about gods in ways that often conflict with their religions' doctrines.
Fred Coolidge/iPhone

Why People See Faces When There Are None: Pareidolia

By Frederick L. Coolidge Ph.D. on August 09, 2016 in How to Think Like a Neandertal
Why people see faces in everything.

When Are Puppies at Their Cutest?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on July 26, 2016 in Animals and Us
Most dogs on Earth die before they are three months old. New research shows how being cute can save a puppy from an early death.

Rethinking Marriage...and Cancer

A technique to save marriages might also help us confront cancer.

Lessons About Gendered Behaviors from Mountain Gorillas

A population of Mountain Gorillas recently underwent a complete upheaval in the most central aspects of their gender-based social structures. If they can do it, so can we.

Killing Harambe: Who Was Protecting Whom?

By Joe Pierre M.D. on May 31, 2016 in Psych Unseen
Moral outrage is swift, retributive, and often based on limited information and context.

The Peculiar Thought We Often Have When Facing Illness

Some of the psychological consequences of illness are obvious. This one, less so.

New Evidence That Aliens Have Reached Earth

Has science caught up with science fiction?

Consciousness, Suffering and the Rights of Animals

By John Staddon, Ph.D. on April 22, 2016 in Adaptive Behavior
Can an amoeba suffer and should we care?

Mentalizing, Ontological Confusions, and Religious Belief

New research findings from Finland suggest that facility with theory of mind may be less important for religious belief than most cognitive scientists of religion have assumed.

Why Speech Anxiety is a Sign of Integrity

Why speech anxiety is a sign of fundamental integrity.

Does the Meat-Animal Suffering Link Impact Views of Animals?

By Nathan A Heflick Ph.D. on September 30, 2015 in The Big Questions
How do people resolve not wanting to harm animals, but enjoying meat?

Dog-Gone It!

By Saul Levine M.D. on August 31, 2015 in Our Emotional Footprint
I went from being a dog-fearing man all my life, to a "higher level" of being.

Who's More Rational, Human Animals or NON-human Animals?

By David Ropeik on August 28, 2015 in How Risky Is It, Really?
Discoveries about animal intelligence and emotion, and about human cognition, are challenging our views of which species on the Tree of Life are more rational.

Is Extreme Weather an 'Act of God'?

Researchers from Northwestern University, University of Arizona and Stanford University, have recently published an investigation into first-hand accounts from survivors of two major natural disasters--Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Chilean earthquake in 2010. Describing the disasters as an 'Act of God' was among the most common explanations.

Chez Chimp: Why Our Primate Cousins Don't Cook

By Rosemary Joyce Ph.D. on June 03, 2015 in What Makes Us Human
Chimpanzees like their tubers cooked. What does that tell us about what it means to be human?

What Your Dog Wants

Living with a pet provides humans with many physical and psychological benefits. Research shows that the health and well-being of pet owners is greater than that of non-pet-owners. But what about our pets? Sure, we buy them treats and care for them. But do they get deeper, more important rewards from their human relationships? And how might this come about?

Do We Project Our Own Personalities Onto Our Dogs' Behavior?

Dogs can be a sort of psychological mirror since people sometimes use their own personality tendencies to fill in the gaps when trying to interpret ambiguous dog behaviors.
Do Pets Go To Heaven?

Do Pets Go To Heaven?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on May 30, 2012 in Animals and Us
What happens to animals when they die? We recently asked people which species they thought went to Heaven. The results were surprising....