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The Fundamental Attribution Error
liberty5300
 March 28 2024 at 06:53 pm
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We were in the family locker room this morning at our gym, and my daughter suddenly noticed that her own pants matched a cheetah pattern on the pants of an attractive and fit older woman. The woman was pleased and she began talking to my almost-three-year-old. “Do you have a little baby in your tummy?” My daughter so innocently asked the dreaded question. Although she initially looked a bit horrified, the lady took it very well. She chuckled and stated, “I’m actually a grandma of three.” My daughter beamed. “I have two grandmas!” I told the lady that I have been verbally preparing my daughter for a pregnancy, which is true. We plan on trying to conceive soon, so I’ve been trying to get her comfortable with the idea. The lady didn’t even look a little bit pregnant. The comments were entirely situational in etiology. I pray that this lady doesn’t ultimately take it personally. Only, a few days prior, I encountered a similar slightly humiliating situation, but the reverse. Kids are humbling! I carried my restless toddler from my car into the gym. Upon showing my phone for proof of membership, my toddler immediately giggled and yelled to the desk attendant, “sticker, please!” The attendant smiled and gave her a little booklet of stickers to choose from. I picked her back up once she was satisfied and headed to drop her off at the kids academy so that I could get to the treadmill. My daughter pressed my forehead with her pointer finger and gave me a kiss, “So pretty, mommy.” I almost teared up, toddlers can be so sweet. I put her down so that she could walk into the kids academy. She put her arms out and proceeded to make buzzing sounds, tilting her head from side to side. I asked, “are you an airplane?” She shook her head and made more buzzing noises. “No, mommy! I’m not airplane!” “Helicopter?” “No, mommy!” The young woman at the desk, overwhelmed by all of the parents and children in line, rushed her back into the tot spot. I walked into the locker room to drop off my tote bag. I didn’t even take the time to look at the fit of my new tennis dress in the mirror. As I walked upstairs, I started to get a ton of smiles. Men (and women) walking down the stairs grinned as I made my way towards the treadmills. I didn’t think anything of it, at least, at first. My old man friend, a retired oncologist I used to work with, immediately found me, as usual, and proceeded to tell me a dad joke. I politely laughed even though I didn’t really know why it was relevant, something about honey or a bee-keeper. Where in the world did that come from? He’s getting so old and senile! I got on the treadmill facing the stationary bikes and I start to get all of these stares and smiles from the cyclists-in-place. I must look really good today! Maybe it’s the tennis dress? A young guy who works at the gym got on the treadmill on the right side of me. I had seen him at the gym before, but he hadn’t ever said anything to me besides comment on my toddler and her energy. After a few minutes, he looked over and smirked, raising one eyebrow. This is getting annoying. What is up with today, do I need to flash my ring? I brushed a few strands of hair in front of my right ear back into my ponytail with my left hand. I paused in exaggeration with my ring facing him so that he can see that I’m obviously married. Wow, what is up with the creeps these days! I finished my work out and I headed downstairs to pick my daughter up from the academy. I couldn’t help but scratch an itchy spot on the upper right side of my forehead. I suddenly felt something papery and sticky, and I realized, for the last hour or more, my toddler had me sporting a bumblebee sticker the size of a nickel. Everything made sense. Again, kids are very humbling. How often does this happen? I think I make this error much more often than I want to admit. We may think we’re getting reactions from people that say something about “us” or “them,” when the reactions we receive could be based on situational factors alone.

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