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Anthropomorphism

  1. Virginia S. Y. Kwan1,
  2. Kathryn Johnson2,
  3. Becca Neel2,
  4. Adam B. Cohen2

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0066

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Kwan, V. S. Y., Johnson, K., Neel, B. and Cohen, A. B. 2010. Anthropomorphism. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Princeton University

  2. 2

    Arizona State University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

Abstract

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of humanlike characteristics to real or imagined nonhuman agents. The word anthropomorphism derives from Greek and, literally translated, means humanlike (ánthrpos) in shape or form (morphos). In our daily lives, we do not have different languages to describe humans versus nonhumans. Therefore, humanlike characteristics are often used in a metaphorical sense to facilitate understanding (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). For example, we might say our car refuses to start, but this does not require that we actually think the car has ill intentions. Nevertheless, anthropomorphism may have important psychological and social ramifications. In some cases, anthropomorphic agents may be thought of as actual persons in the lives of those for whom they are real. These personified agents may be deemed to have rights, responsibilities, or the potential for social interactions.

Keywords:

  • nonhumans agents;
  • person perception;
  • humanization;
  • intentionality