Talking to Pets Shows How Smart You Are, Study Says

updated Jul 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

If you’ve found yourself fully engulfed in a one-sided conversation with your favorite furry friend then realized how ridiculous you might look to an onlooker, resist the urge to label yourself a dunce for chatting up your favorite animal. Apparently, there’s scientific proof that says talking to pets is a sign of intelligence.

That’s sort of difficult to believe, particularly because animals tend to tilt their heads when we’re rambling on about totally random human stuff that pets don’t understand.

Dr Nicholas Epley, behavioral scientist and author of “Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want,” explains the link between people holding conversations with animals by referring to anthropomorphism, the idea that an animal or object has traits like those of a human being.

“Historically, anthropomorphizing has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet,” Epley said. “No other species has this tendency.”

Basically, human-to-pet conversations demonstrate how smart we are, but it also provides just another example of the human species’ unparalleled uniqueness and the manner in which we psychologically acknowledge the minds of other creatures or objects, says Epley.

“Recognizing the mind of another human being involves the same psychological processes as recognizing a mind in other animals, a god, or even a gadget. It is a reflection of our brain’s greatest ability rather than a sign of our stupidity.”

Whether you consider yourself a pet whisperer à la Cesar Milan or you simply find that sharing your living space with a pet tends to run more smoothly when there’s open communication, continue spilling your guts to your animal companion. They may not be convinced that you’re any smarter, but the good news is that they’ll still love you just the same.