Book Definition: A preoperational mode of thought in which inanimate objects are imagined to have life and mental processes.

In Your Own Words

  • Believing that inanimate objects have actions and thoughts.
  • The belief that inanimate objects posses human qualities (this includes feelings and emotions).
  • Associating non-living objects with the abilities and features that people consist.
  • Thinking objects are "alive."


  • If a child slips and bangs her head on the table, she might complain about the "bad table", blaming it for hurting her.
  • A little girl asks her favorite doll what she thinks of her new dress, as if the doll actually understands her.
  • A child thinks that dropping a doll actually caused the doll pain, because they know if they were dropped it would have caused them pain.
  • When little kids have a Tea Party and they think that the dolls can talk to each other and eat/drink the tea and other foods.
  • After watching Toy Story, a child begins to spy on their toys because they believe the toys have the ability to talk.
  • Andy from Toy Story, talks to Buzz and Woody and considers those two toys to be his best friends.
  • Feeling bad for not playing with a toy because you don't want it to feel left out.
  • A child watches the PBS show Dragon Tales, and believes dragons are real and can talk, and there is a magical land.
  • When a ball is rolling away, a child yells "stay ball! stop running away from me!"
  • When a child yells the TV for turning itself off.
  • A child who thinks the step that he tripped on is "mean".
  • A man is scared that all computers are really just planning to take over the word, but just waiting for the right time, even though they are only computers.

Additional Resources

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