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The Lives of Things

Storms rage, floods take their toll - is nature taking revenge? Michael Blastland turns the lens of psychology on how people treat objects and other entities as if they are alive.

Storms rage and floods take their toll - is this nature taking its revenge? Michael Blastland turns the lens of psychology on how we treat objects and other entities as if they are 'alive'.

Not just the weather - we rail against a crashed laptop, dote on our cars and have conversations with our pets. Why do we anthropomorphise the things around us?

In fact, we tend to exaggerate what psychologists call 'agency' in all kinds of ways - as if there's a mind behind what goes on in the world, with feelings and intentions. Does this mean we see conspiracy, blame, praise, and power where it doesn't belong?

Michael Blastland investigates with resident Zoo psychologist Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, and roving reporter Timandra Harkness.

Producer: Dom Byrne
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes