Did you say good morning to your pet today? Yes? Well you are using your brain to it’s greatest ability, according to Behavioural Science Professor Epley, of the University of Chicago.
Recognising the mind of another human being involves the same psychological processes as recognising a mind in other animals, a god, or even a gadget.
Anthropomorphising – giving manlike tendencies to animals and inanimate objects, is what makes humans “uniquely smart on this planet”. No other speciehas this ability.
Biologists believe the domestication of dogs was based on the physical traits of the wolf ancestors, with “big eyes, and baby-faced features”. Cuteness prompts social engagements. Picture a baby panda bear and a baby rat – ugliness creates a disengagement and avoidance.
This process of humanizing pets and objects, improves momentary wellbeing. Pets provide significant social support as people treat them as humanlike companions, One test on pet owners (aka slaves) saw that (human) participants who were “ostracised by another human, did not experience the same distress if they were in the presence of a dog when they were alone”.
Read more here in the paper: Motivate Mind Perception: Treating Pets as People and People as Animals by N. Epley, J. Schroeder and A. Waytz