Sample Essay on Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism concerns the ascription of human psychological qualities to non-human entities, especially animals. The perils of anthropomorphism concern the problems of incorporating an unscientific and ineffective technique in the study of animal behavior. Rather than a scientific approach in studying animal behavior in terms of enforcing objectivity and basis on logic and evidence, anthropomorphism represents a form of mentalism (idea that the only ultimate explanations of psychological and physical phenomena involve the application of mind and thought interpretations and creations), thus undermining scientific objectivity. In essence, anthropomorphism involves labelling of animal behaviors using common terms in human psychology, which is in itself ineffective in explaining animal behavior (Wynne 125). It is an illustration of the erroneous belief (fallacy) that by naming a phenomenon, one can explain it.

In explaining the behaviors of animals as expressions or indications of “remorse”, “happiness”, “regret”, “care”, or “love”, the individual achieves no explanation of behavior. Scientists and psychologists should avoid anthropomorphic explanations because they are inappropriate and ineffective in explaining the behaviors of animals, especially considering that such explanations do not appeal to any scientific elements of “remorse”, “love”, or other behaviors. Anthropomorphic explanations are also unscientific and illogical in the study of human behaviors because they are incapable of controlling or predicting future behaviors. By ascribing to the anthropomorphic model of explaining animal behavior, psychologists and scientists would be committing a nominalist fallacy, relating to the misconception of offering names to objects or phenomena as explaining them. To avoid anthropomorphism, scientists and psychologists should instead focus on better scientific methods of explaining and hypothesizing about animal behavior, particularly objective and logical sciences such as ethology, cognitive psychology, and behaviorism (Wynne 133-134). The mentalist and traditional psychological explanations of animal psychology in anthropomorphism are irrelevant in the age of objective science.


Works Cited

Wynne, Clive. “What are Animals? Why Anthropomorphism is still not a Scientific Approach to Behavior”. Comparative Cognition and Behavior Reviews 2 (2007): 125-135. Print.