Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism

What Is Anthropomorphism?

When you talk to your dog, your computer, your teddy bear, or your car as if you were speaking to another person, you are anthropomorphizing—or attributing human characteristics like emotions and intent to a non-human entity. Anthropomorphism is a universal mental process—pretty much everyone does it—but research shows that the degree to which individuals anthropomorphize can have significant consequences in their lives. Ascribing human qualities to inanimate objects is generally associated with innocuous, often positive effects like "cuteness," humor, empowerment, and a mature sense of responsibility. Anthropomorphism as it relates to nature, for example, can lead to better environmental conservation, and an anthropomorphic attitude towards money can lead to more financial stability.

Extreme examples of this type of behavior, however, are also linked to psychological issues and social concerns, such as an anxious attachment to objects that leads to hoarding, forcing wild animals to behave in unnatural ways for the sake of human entertainment, and social acceptance of androids (robots) that undermines the unique qualities and value of humans.

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