When I was teaching career skills at a private art university, I would often show a photo of a man in a orange jumpsuit with tattoos on his face, and a photo of another man in a surgical ward wearing scrubs. I’d ask which one of these two men they’d trust with a scalpel in the event of suddenly needing heart surgery.
Without a doubt, everyone picks the dude in the scrubs. And this isn’t really surprising, as I’d choose that person as well, especially in an emergency situation. However, I’d then posit – what if these photos were taken on Halloween, and the orange prison uniform guy is actually a renown heart surgeon, and the man in scrubs is actually an author with no medical background.
It is true, context is everything, but when we need to make snap decisions, we’ll often fall back on what we can generalize to be true.
There are some instances in which it makes sense to go with your assumptions about a person. How often do those really occur, and what are the situations in which this lazy generalization might be making life worse?