Humans have a habit of projecting their own personalities onto pets, which reveals that most pet-owners have some serious, deep-seeded issues that need to be ironed out with a licensed therapist. Have you ever noticed that people (including you, probably) give pets -- from dogs to cats to the occasional sugar glider -- weird, oft-demented human voices and personalities?
For example: "I'm just a wittle doggie who goes potty inside Mommy's house sometime, yes I am! Yes I am! I chew on Mommy's shoes when she's not home, too -- because I'm just a wittle doggie-man." Yep. You can hear it, can't you?
As it turns out, there are viable explanations behind the voices and developed personalities we bestow upon our four-legged friends -- and it all revolves around our own psychological quirks.
“The first thing people do is treat their pets like people, so a precondition is that they perceive minds in their pets,” assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina Kurt Gray told Slate, in their story on the subject. “Once you see your pet as having a mind, and being pretty smart, and having a personality, the next question is, naturally, ‘What is the personality of my cat?’” Slate also went to dog parks around New York, documenting the phenomenon in this unsettling video.
The piece goes on to detail the reasons behind voices often resembling those of children: "That comes from treating animals like kids. There’s been a funny switch in understanding our relationship to dogs, from ‘master’ to ‘parent.’ It used to be, ‘I’m the master of the dog.’ Now, ‘Oh, I’m the dog’s dad,’" Gray said.
As if you weren't depressed enough already, there's an even bleaker impetus behind the voices: crippling loneliness. Gray states that the lonelier people are, the more likely they are to anthropomorphize inanimate objects and animals -- because, you know, there's no one else around to talk to. Womp Womp.
Though it's not all disheartening, as Gray touches on some of the lighter reasons behind our pet projections. "Pets are not just pets, they’re our pets. And it’s our responsibility to take care of them," he said. "So maybe that affords some of the connection we have to them." He even relates to the phenomenon, himself. "(It's) a way for us to cope with (his dogs) doing shithead things.”
Let's re-watch Homeward Bound, and circle back on this one.
Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He thinks fortune favors the bold. And also the rich. Follow him @wilfulton
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