Anthropomorphizing means attributing human qualities to non-human things — such as objects, animals, or phenomena. Some people do this more than others.

Anthropomorphizing is a common way humans perceive and interact with the world around them. The way we project human-like qualities onto objects has changed over the years, but the concept remains the same.

Children often anthropomorphize as they are curious about the world, and it helps them make sense of their environment. Kids may notice human-like things about non-human objects that adults dismiss. Some people have a tendency to anthropomorphize that lasts into adulthood.

Anthropomorphism is when you think about animals or objects as if they were human.

For instance, pet owners might observe human-like qualities in their pets, believing that their pet is experiencing an emotional state similar to what a human feels. Or someone might attribute personality characteristics, preferences, and opinions to soft toys.

People might also anthropomorphize technology items, such as:

  • computers
  • robots
  • electronic toys

Other examples of anthropomorphizing include:

  • talking animals or inanimate objects in myths, films, and books
  • empathizing with inanimate objects that you perceive as having human-like features
  • treating cars, computers, and machines as if they have minds
  • giving human names to storms
  • dressing animals in clothing
  • attributing human qualities to spirits or other entities

Although anyone can do it, some people are more likely to engage in anthropomorphizing than others.

For example, research from 2018 shows that children often anthropomorphize by giving traits and emotions to their toys. Many continue doing this into adulthood.

People generally anthropomorphize to make sense of events and behaviors they experience. Further, attributing emotions, attitudes, mental states, faces, and values to non-human things can help you feel connected to something.

Human brains process social information quickly, so it’s natural for them to assess non-humans with the same thought process. You might be so accustomed to perceiving faces around you that you begin to see them in something non-human that resembles one, even vaguely.

Additionally, anthropomorphizing might make it easier for you to experience connectedness and empathy. If you tend to anthropomorphize, you may also have more moral thoughts and experience more guilt after hurting someone.

Attributing human-like qualities to pets or objects can have benefits, like fulfilling a social need.

For instance, when someone gets lonely or feels sensitive about social relationships, they may lean toward attributing human features to their pets.

In addition, people might find anxiety or stress relief by attributing emotions to something that makes them comfortable, like a soft toy. Plus, anthropomorphizing may help you better understand other people and connect with the world around you.

Anthropomorphism can also promote wildlife conservation. When people attribute human-like qualities to nature, they highlight similarities between themselves and wildlife. This may improve empathy levels and attitudes to promote conservation initiatives and policies.

Recently, 2021 research has indicated that anthropomorphism might cause misunderstandings that negatively impact your pets.

While animals get excited to see their human or play fetch, trying to understand animals based on human thoughts and behaviors can be detrimental.

For instance, you might not recognize why your animal behaves a specific way if you attribute it to human qualities. Because pets have different biological needs than humans. attributing human characteristics to them can lead to incidences that harm their needs and interests.

Besides this, more research is needed before any further dangers or downsides to anthropomorphizing can be determined.

Humans are social, and this quality can lead to anthropomorphizing non-humans.

You might attribute human-like qualities to inanimate objects, animals, nature, or other entities. This likely stems from trying to better understand and relate to the world around you.

Anthropomorphizing isn’t always detrimental. For instance, it may improve your well-being by creating a sense of comfort and connectedness.