Anthropomorphic Art Meaning with Examples

What is Anthropomorphism? How are Anthropomorphic Characters used in Movies, Art, Stories, and Animation? How does Anthropomorphism Relate to Human Psychology?
Anthropomorphic Art

Someone said that imagination has no bounds. Imagination is in everyone, may it be a toddler or an adult. Artists, cartoonists, painters, etc., use imaginations to draw certain characters. You have also seen how beautiful their imaginations are. So today, you will learn about anthropomorphism meaning, anthropomorphic art, and anthropomorphic characters.

1. Anthropomorphism Meaning

It is considered a part of human psychology. When a human creates an emotional attachment to a non-living thing and imagines that it reciprocates the same emotions, it is an anthropomorphic feeling. When kids bond with their toys, they talk with a teddy bear or a doll. In adults, these things are replaced by animals. In literature, this imaginary power is used to create characters like the body of animals or non-living things with voices and behaviors like humans.

  • One such example is Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is a mouse, but he wears clothes, walks, talks, eats, and sleeps like humans. It is anthropomorphically depicted through the character because it is common in stories, folktales, and fantasies. (Also read 30 Best Cartoon Characters of all time)
  • In the movie Beauty and the Beast, all the courtiers and staff got converted into non-living things, like crockery, cupboards, broom, candles, etc. But except for their bodily shape, everything has got some human touch in them. They were talking and walking, laughing, and dancing.

2. History of Anthropomorphism

The name anthropomorphism was derived from two Greek words. Ánthrōp means human, and morphē means form. So, they conjoined and became anthropomorphism. Xenophanes, a Greek philosopher, coined this term. (Also read The History of Medieval Jesters)

anthropomorphic art 1: anthropomorphic art

3. Evidence from the Ruins

Anthropomorphism is an extension of human psychology as creating art out of curiosity and imagination is what defines your mental state. This process was discovered much earlier than the inventions of cartoons and animation. Archeologists have discovered several pieces of evidence of anthropomorphic art in which figures and paintings were included.

  • An ivory statue that is almost 35000 years old is the oldest example of anthropomorphism found in Germany. This figure is human-shaped, but the head is of a lion known as Lowenmensch Figurine.
  • Another evidence of anthropomorphic art was from a French cave painting named The Sorcerer. The painting was discovered in the cave of Trois-Freres cave, Ariege. Though the exact meaning or significance of the painting is still unknown, it is an example of anthropomorphic art, according to the researchers. (See Interesting History of Dino Bones)

anthropomorphic art 2: anthropomorphic art

4. Anthropomorphic Characters

We all love cartoons and animation movies irrespective of our age. But you never knew the characters you saw were a part of anthropomorphism. A few such examples are:

  • Simba from the Lion King
  • Woody from Toy Story
  • Barbie and other characters in Barbie movies
  • Humpty Dumpty from Alice in Wonderland
  • Digimon, Nemo, and his friends
  • Aslan from Narnia
  • Groot from the Avengers
  • Scooby-Doo

And every other cartoon character is a form of anthropomorphic art. (Also read True History of Humpty Dumpty Rhyme)

Creating characters is a mind game, and the mind is involved, then it is related to our psychology. Fritz Heider, an Australian psychologist, and Marianne Simmel, a German-American psychologist, conducted a study in 1944 on some people to collect data about anthropomorphism. They showed a two-and-a-half-minute-long animation video of just shapes chasing each other. But when the volunteers were questioned about what they saw, they gave creative answers because every volunteer created a different imagination of those characters in mind. (Also read PhD Vs PsyD in Psychology)

According to reports and studies conducted in modern times, people use anthropomorphism as a strategy to cope with loneliness and thus create anthropomorphic art. As per modern psychologists, humans use their schemas about people as a basis for creating human properties to form a judgment about the environment accordingly, even if their judgment is wrong

  • Introvert people find attaching to these non-living objects easier than socializing with humans around them. So having an introverted personality can really help them to develop this form of art.
  • Lack of trust in humans has led to the development of this strategy. (Also read Best Child Psychology Books)

anthropomorphic art 1: anthropomorphic art

7. The Three-factor Theory 

Psychologist Adam Waytz and his colleagues wrote the three-factor theory of anthropomorphism. According to their theory, a human anthropomorphizes based on three factors: 

  • Elicit agent knowledge is the knowledge that a person already possesses about an object. This knowledge is also the amount that the person’s brain can recall.
  • Effectance is the ability to interact and understand the environment of something or someone.
  • Sociality is the art of socializing all that a human possesses.

According to Waytz and his theory, people will anthropomorphize more if their elicit knowledge is less than effectance and sociality. Other factors affecting their ability to anthropomorphize are cultural ideologies, an urge to understand things, being distanced from social life, and many more. (Also read 10 Golden Rules of Life)

8. Benefits of Anthropomorphism

  • Connecting non-living things of anthropomorphic art with a few characteristics of human figures or behaviors helps a person memorize them faster. It helps that thing retains a place in the mind, and the brain easily recalls it when needed. This strategy is for helping kids through the learning and memorizing process.
  • Anthropomorphism helps people suffering from mental health issues like depression. They get attached emotionally to their animals or some in-animated things. Such ways help calm them down whenever they are under attack. (See How to Heal Yourself Emotionally?)

9. Problems of Anthropomorphism 

Sometimes, imagining things that are not real can be dangerous. If a person becomes overly attached to an animal, they will develop an inaccurate understanding of their feelings which is not correct. It may lead to some serious circumstances. Therefore, an anthropomorphic attitude is considered a danger to your surroundings and to yourself too. (Also read Top 8 World’s Smallest Animals)

So today, you learned anthropomorphism meaning and anthropomorphic characters found in movies, stories, and cartoons. You also discovered anthropomorphic art found among the various pages of history unearthed by archeologists and researchers. Apart from this, you get to know how human psychology and anthropomorphism are interrelated.

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