Pathetic fallacy refers to projection of human traits, beliefs or behaviors on non-human objects or entities.

This is classified as a type of personification.


Targets may include:

(1) animals

(2) weather

(3) plants and trees

(4) bodies of water

(5) mountains, hills, volcanoes, rocks or soil

(6) robots

(7) buildings


Projections may include:

(1) emotions, moods and feelings

(2) traits

(3) beliefs

(4) actions


Reasons may include:

(1) artistic or literary device

(2) unfilled need, fear, anxiety

(3) cultural


For animals with some degree of intelligence and emotional being there may be problems distinguishing the real from the projected. This can be a problem in the relationship between pets and pet owners.

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