Monday, January 5, 2009

Assumptions

I was in the elevator after work. It was right before Christmas. It was rainy and cold outside. I was commenting to my friend that I hoped the rain had stopped because playing soccer in the rain when it is cold out is just not very fun. A lady in the elevator got in on the conversation, commenting that it's unusual that we still have soccer so close to the holidays. She said that football just had an optional practice that night but she didn't think many people would be going.

I have seen the postings on Craigslist for the women's football league and I thought it was super-cool that she plays. She looked pretty tough and I figured she was pretty good at it. I wanted to ask her tons of questions about it but we had reached the parking garage and went our separate ways.

As I walked to my car, I realized that she was actually talking about football for her son - not her own football team. She had joined the conversation with the assumption that I was just like her, a dedicated mom who spends my evenings taking my kids to soccer. Likewise, I assumed that she was like me, participating in activities that she enjoys for herself.

Is it human nature to assume that people are just like you? Or is it just an indication of being narrow-minded? I certainly hope its not the latter.

2 comments:

cmbrandenburg said...

This cognitive bias is called a projection. No worries! I'd say you are quite the normal, open-minded person.

grace e. said...

very interesting! As I understand it -- the whole act of "socializing" is seeking out those who share similar characteristics so you can "bond" -- therein lies the rub when you aren't very similar as it is! Thank goodness for folks like you who seem to find something likeable in just about everyone. :)