Humans are social creatures. Babies unable to grow up with proper social care could succumb to death or have altered brain chemistry. Even later in life, the brain can still be negatively effected without proper social care, and can have lasting effects on the person involved.
With this in mind is it no surprise then that humans give humanistic traits to animals? Do we do this to form a deeper connection, even if the animal cares not?
“It’s hard not to fall into the trap of saying an animal is sad or happy. We don’t know for sure – we bring into it how we would feel. We say elephants are sad when grieving their parents because this is how we would feel in that situation.” George McGavin, an academic and TV presenter, said in an interview with the Guardian.
Empathy plays a huge role in human interaction and can change a person from knowing a problem to understanding the problem. Without empathy there would be no affection and love as we’ve come to know it today.
Anthropomorphism, or the act of giving things, particularly animals, human-like features, could be considered one step further from empathy.
“We want to bring our own experience into the narrative we tell ourselves about animals, and assume they feel emotions.” McGavin said.
It may be a joke to some when hearing an animal presented as “people” or “part of the family,” but at its very core its an undeniably human thing to do. We can’t help if social-ness and connection is in our genes, and who really says a dog can’t feel the same things humans feel?