We’re expected to outgrow this tendency as we age, and for the most part we do. But according to Epley, confiding relationship troubles to our dogs or begging our trusty old cars to “Please just take us one more mile” doesn’t make us immature or crazy, it makes us well-adjusted human beings.

“For centuries, our willingness to recognize minds in nonhumans has been seen as a kind of stupidity, a childlike tendency toward anthropomorphism and superstition that educated and clear-thinking adults have outgrown,” he writes in his book. “I think this view is both mistaken and unfortunate. 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.”

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