Why We Name Our Objects

Why We Name Our Objects

Nora Taylor
Nov 7, 2017
(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Does your laptop have a name? Your TV? Your immersion blender? The practice is not uncommon (one Apartment Therapy staffer named their TV Layla, "'cause she was expensive, high-maintenance, & feisty"), but have you ever wondered why you do it? The Cut recently looked at the impulses behind assigning names—and occasionally personalities—to inanimate objects.

So why do we name things like cars but not spatulas? One of the theories posited is that we want our objects to be more like us. Cars, for instance, have headlights that sort of look like eyes and they fit into our natural desire to anthropomorphize things, so we give them names. When we're able to form a bond with an electronic or item, we see it as more human.

The article brings up a theory from Nicholas Epley, that we also seek to humanize machines when they break down or error:

He references one survey of 900 listeners of NPR's Car Talk Show, which found that the more unreliable a car, the more people were likely to attribute a mind to it. Machines, unlike humans, are supposed to be reliable; when they aren't, we see more of ourselves in their unpredictability.

Other theories include that we name an object when "you're trying to convey ownership, or attachment," and the blunt offering that "you're feeling lonely." The article suggests that we name items that are significant to us in their usefulness or represent status; a good luck golf club, a boat. As for the loneliness factor, it is fairly self explanatory—just ask this guy.

Head on over to The Cut for the full story.

Do any of your possessions have a name? Tell us in the comments.

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