The Science Behind Why We Name Our Personal Belongings

posted: 11/15/17
by: Amanda Mushro
Woman talking to man in car


Have you ever given your car a name? If you do, you aren't alone. According to a study, one in four people have given names to their cars. But giving names to our personal belongings doesn't just stop at our car. From our computers to your household appliances, many people give names to the inanimate objects in their lives. So why do we do this silly naming game? Turns out, it all has to do with human psychology.

According to an article in New York Magazine, one of the reasons we feel the need to name our belongings is that we attribute humanlike qualities to the items we own. Our trusty and reliable old car, a noisy bike, or a washing machine that just won't die no matter how hard we put it to work. We find these humanlike qualities in our belongings and we feel compelled to give it a familiar name.

"We think there are multiple reasons why this happens," psychologist Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business tells the New York Magazine. "Some of them have to do with just how similar some inanimate object or animal seems to a person. This can sometimes be an appearance, how it behaves or acts, or any other cues or similarities that lead us to treat nonhuman agents as humanlike."

Another theory is that giving names to our belongings conveys ownership or an attachment to the items we own. However for this theory, we only name the object that mean the most to us but not necessarily the items we use the most often. So that may be why we so often find a moniker for our cars but not our phone or computer. Some studies have found that the more unreliable an item--the more likely we are to name it. If you have a shiny new car, it might be nameless, but the car that is always breaking down on your, it might have earned itself a name.

Do you have a name for your car or any of your belongings? Tell us in the comments!