This paper offers an integrated typology for the classification of personifications in discourse, based on existing methods for linguistic metaphor identification such as MIP (Pragglejaz Group, 2007) and MIPVU (Steen et al., 2010). The psychological relevance of the proposed typology is explored in an empirical study that examines the recognition of personifications in fiction by non-expert readers. A selection of structural properties of personifications is discussed and predictions are formulated regarding which values of which variables are deemed to boost the recognition of personifications. The results suggest that the different types of personification differ in recognizability and that their recognition may be more strongly determined by inherent properties (such as conventionality) than by external factors (such as the presence of a prime). Though the results cannot be unambiguously interpreted, they do indicate some tendencies in the behaviour of non-expert readers and their perceptions of the forms and functions of personification in fiction. © 2012 John Benjamins Publishing Company.