Most people find themselves talking to their pets or house plants at some point in their lives in the privacy of their own homes. However, according to Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago in an interview with Quartz, talking to your pet or plant is not only totally normal, it’s also a sign of high intelligence.

Attributing human-like characteristics to objects and creatures that are not humans, called anthropomorphising, is a natural byproduct of mankind's intelligence that makes humans so uniquely smart, Epley told Quartz in a recent article. According to Epley, who Quartz described as “arguably the world’s foremost anthropomorphism expert,” humans are the only species that anthropomorphize, and the reason we do this is because our advanced intelligence allows us to recognize and find faces everywhere, even where they may not exactly exist.

Read: Pareidolia Phenomenon Explains Why We See Faces In Unusual Places

What’s more, Epley predicts that individuals with stronger social intelligence may be likely to anthropomorphize more often, although this has not yet been proven. Along the same vein, Psych Central suggested that lonely individuals may also anthropomorphize more often as a way to seek social interaction where none is available from other humans.

According to evolutionary scientists, the tendency to give faces and human thoughts to, well, anything, may have evolved as a way to keep us safe; for example, it may help us to distinguish the faces of friends from foes in an instant, Quartz reported.

A phenomenon known as pareidolia, where the mind tries to find a familiar pattern where none really exists, may also account for other psychological feats, like how we attribute thoughtful human minds to things that can't have thoughts, let alone rational human thoughts. Some scientists suggest that seeing faces and human attributes in the non-human may be a way for our mind to make sense of random information, finding art in chaos, Vox reported. Some even believe that his well-known phenomenon can explain many paranormal and religious occurrences, such as seeing the likeness of Jesus and Mary in various places, or seeing the faces of the dead or spirits in graveyards and old homes.

However, while we often feel shame and embarrassment when we see a face where it does not exist, or speak to an object or creature unable to understand us, Epley suggests this is a characteristic that should be celebrated instead.

“Historically, anthropomorphizing has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet,” Epley told Quartz. “No other species... has this tendency.”

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