The human tendency to anthropomorphize everything.
anthropomorphize : to attribute human form or personality to; to attribute human form or personality to things not human
Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.
Personification is the related attribution of human form and characteristics to abstract concepts such as nations, emotions, and natural forces, such as seasons and weather.
Both have ancient roots as storytelling and artistic devices, and most cultures have traditional fables with anthropomorphized animals as characters. People have also routinely attributed human emotions and behavioural traits to wild as well as domesticated animals.
The study of great apes in their own environment and in captivity[j] has changed attitudes to anthropomorphism. In the 1960s the three so-called "Leakey's Angels", Jane Goodall studying chimpanzees, Dian Fossey studying gorillas and Biruté Galdikas studying orangutans, were all accused of "that worst of ethological sins – anthropomorphism". The charge was brought about by their descriptions of the great apes in the field; it is now more widely accepted that empathy has an important part to play in research.
De Waal has written: "To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us." Alongside this has come increasing awareness of the linguistic abilities of the great apes and the recognition that they are tool-makers and have individuality and culture.
Writing of cats in 1992, veterinarian Bruce Fogle points to the fact that "both humans and cats have identical neurochemicals and regions in the brain responsible for emotion" as evidence that "it is not anthropomorphic to credit cats with emotions such as jealousy".