A thought occurred to me yesterday as I was at the car wash. Never before has a vehicle in our household recieved such loving attention. My van could go months without being washed. The kids could care less if they scuffed their shoes on the seats, or got crumbs on the floor. But not now, not with this car. They even want to buy treats of polish cloths and leather conditioner when we're at the store. The difference? We named 'her', and talk about 'her' as if she were alive. Of course they know it's not literal, but, it spread to thier dad's truck even, and neither ever says 'are we taking the car or the truck?', they ask using their names.
This benefit of anthropomorphism had never really occurred to me before, as obvious as it sounds now that I'm talking about it here. it had never occurred to me that it would help tie people to something, make them treat it with extra care and consideration. The discussions I've heard about anthropomorphism in intro psych were limited to attempts to explain away natural phenomena. It was always addressed as an 'immature' affectation of humanity's past, never really as a useful tool.