Don’t Knock the Cat Lady

| March-April 2009

Is your pet an excellent listener? If so, here’s to your health. Ascribing human qualities to animals—even to inanimate objects—may have genuine health benefits, reports Greater Good (Summer 2008). Anthropomorphism is often regarded as a sentimental mistake, but new research shows that it may come from a hardwired, self-preserving drive to form social connections.

In one study, participants were separated into groups and watched video clips that featured lonely, fearful, or socializing characters. Later, the participants who had empathized with lonely characters were far more likely to anthropomorphize when they were asked to describe animals they knew. Since loneliness poses health risks, “anthropomorphism is a critical—if perhaps last ditch—survival technique that kicks in to stave off the negative health effects of loneliness.” From a therapeutic perspective, pets could provide “physiological protection” to people who lack social contact.

Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!

Facebook Instagram Twitter

click me