The Fundamental Attribution Error

It’s an easy one to make. This is something I’ve thought a lot about since being first introduced to it while studying for the MCAT. The fundamental attribution error is when we assume that a person’s behavior is a product of that persons personality or disposition, some internal factor; that’s just the way they are. What we are ignoring when we make this error are external factors that may have influenced that person’s behavior.

A place where I think FAEs are perhaps most commonly made are in restaurants; That waiter is taking so long, he is lazy and is a bad person. Less frequently do we think, He must really busy right now, or simply, He must be having a rough day.

Here are what I think the advantages are to the latter reaction:

  1. You avoid becoming self-righteous. By dissociating the behavior from the person, you avoid enforcing the whole I’m good, others are bad mentality.
  2. You are less angry, ’cause no one like to be angry. If you commit a FAE, often times you can feel personally attacked or just mad because you have been personally harmed or inconvenienced.
  3.  It builds empathy, and empathy makes the world a better place. You try and see things from their perspective and try to understand where they might be coming from.

We are all human, we all make mistakes and we all make bad decisions.

I’m not condoning “bad behavior” or saying that treating another person poorly is ever justified, but what happened happened, and how we choose to interpret another person’s behavior can have profound effects on ourselves and our own outlook.


You are made for perfection

This is something that Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in the book I’m reading. Isn’t that a encouraging thought? Each person has the potential to be the best version of themselves. And I think what the Archbishop is really getting at here is that we as humans are all capable of change. I can seek to improve myself and can create a plan to carry out that improvement.

It’s a shame that many people grew up in a education system, especially here in the U.S. that heavily enforced the idea of natural talent. That attitude of a fixed mindset is not easy to shake.

This also puts the task of achieving perfection on the individual. You are not made perfect, but you are made for perfection. In other words, you can only achieve perfection if you seek it out and make an effort to that end. The more we buy into this idea, the closer we come to making “perfection” a reality.


Why do we value humility?  We value confidence because it often means a person has something to offer or that they are good at something. Yet we dislike arrogant, over-confident people because they often disappoint, the oversell and under-deliver. So is it simply because humble people tend to undersell and over-deliver? I never studied evolutionary psychology, and I bet the answer can be founded somewhere in that realm.

Where is the line between confidence and arrogance, or humility and self-loathing? I guess in both cases it comes down to whether the attitude is justified. There may be some mismatch between a persons own beliefs and what is the reality. A confident person believes in his or her own ability and can back it up when put to the test. An arrogant person also believes in his or her own ability, but is unable to back it up. Likewise a humble person, may lack confidence, but does possess some skill or trait. And a self-loathing person, lacks confidence because they do not possess a certain trait.

And yet, confidence is not they absence of humility and vice versa. Perhaps what is common between the two is that both inspire trust in a person. And in both cases the observer knows the truth about the person, that that person will follow-through with whatever task.

TIATF: My ability, my heritage, my health


Positivity is often misunderstood. Being positive doesn’t mean to ignore “the bad”, it means to see past it. Failure, rejection, tragedy, all these things are inevitable and part of life, and have a lesson attached to it. And in the face of these events we can choose to be controlled and paralyzed by fear, self-pity, or sadness or we can choose to take control of the situation. The fear, the pity, the sadness all are valid emotions, but we should do our best to only let them exist for a moment.


This was inspired once again by Seth Godin’s blog.

If you woke up this morning in a comfy bed wrapped in warm blankets; if stepped out of a hot shower and wiped steam of the mirror to brush your teeth; if you walked into the kitchen and put together a hearty breakfast; if you got if your car and drove to work today you are living in surplus. And that’s not bad, in fact that’s great! I’m not here to make anyone feel bad about that surplus, that privilege. I want to get you to think about what you are doing with it.

Personally I feel guilty cause I often waste it. I waste it on things that are temporary. It’s time to invest that surplus into something that will pay dividends.


The way I see it character as it pertains to individuals is much like characters in fiction. There are static characters and there are dynamic characters. Static characters are don’t change, they are constant. When presented with a situation, task, or problem, they respond predictably throughout the story. Dynamic characters undergo development. They have experiences that change their behavior or motivation, often for the better.

Unlike in fiction, in reality we can choose whether we want to be a static character or a dynamic character. Our character development comes from our choices and our attitudes. We can choose to learn and gain something from our experiences, or we can choose to not to.

Joy vs Happiness

The book I am reading write now is called The Book of Joy. It’s more or less a record of what might be the last conversations between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I’m still in the early stages of the book, but already I feel it has had an impact on me. Just reading about these two men and their own perspectives, their out attitudes, and outlook on life is really inspiring. The wisdom these two holy men exemplify transcends any religion, creed, nationality, or any other construct that divides people, and that was their/ the other’s intention in developing this book and this meeting.

One of the early themes they talk about is the difference between happiness and joy. Essentially they say that happiness is based on something external, why joy is based internally. And while the words may be somewhat arbitrary, I think this is a good distinction, and this is why joy is so important. One of the things it looks like they will talk about in depth, and a common question they received, was how can we be joyful in a world filled with so much suffering. They offered this, and I will probably butcher it, but I will resist going back into the book at this moment, that joy intensifies the human experience. Yes is allow to recognize that which contrasts joy, i.e. suffering, but paves the way for compassion, empathy, etc. In this sense joy, our internal pursuit of contentment counters apathy.

What I like about this book is that both the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop are also well read men who seem to know a lot about current events in science and other disciplines. They can recognize what science has to offer and make no attempt blindly to refute or challenge it.

My reading goal may increase.


It’s been a while. Have been feeling a bit down/ confused/ frustrated recently for various reasons. It’s nice being at work because I get to take my mind of things, I get to get outside of my head. That’s probably why people who do a lot of volunteer work or do other service oriented things, it helps them not think about their own problems. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Often times our own problems are petty or insignificant anyway.

All that being said I do think it’s important to think about where we as individuals need to grow and figure out how we plan on reforming ourselves. I want to take some time and space to lay out some of my current goals and areas for growth, mostly for myself. Maybe I should post this list some where public so there is some sort of accountability attached to it. As usual fear of vulnerability is what is holding me back.

Anyways here goes;


Learn Spanish – Right now I’m just using Duolingo, I want at some point start talking to Irene from my work because she mostly speaks Spanish and I feel bad that whenever she is cleaning on floor I am on that I can’t really talk to her. My tangible for this will be to maintain my streak on Duolingo for 1 week.

Study more – I’m going to need to get back into the swing of things in terms of studying since I will be retaking the MCAT next year. I want to try some new strategies and that may include creating my own study resources for others to use. Tangibles to come.

Read more – I have a bunch of books in my Amazon cart that I want to read. Though I also still have some books here at home that I need to check of my list. My tangible goal for now will be to read 20 pages a day. Doesn’t seem like that much, but I wanna start small at first so that I won’t get discouraged. If I feel like I can increase I will.

Write more – Simple, keep writing and posting here.

Run – This one I’m still on the fence about. I miss running and I want to start running in the mornings. My tangible would be to go on a 20 min run every morning, but of all my goals this will probably will be the hardest to fall into.

Less social media – I deleted FB, SC, and IG from my phone so I spend less time mindlessly scrolling. IG now I’m pretty inactive, I will open in in browser once in a while, but for the most part I stay away. FB is a different story, I still comment and stuff pretty frequently. SC reinstalled recently, but I deleted it just now. Once in a while I’ll miss it, but I often realize I don’t really like watching peoples stories and I don’t really need other people to know what I am doing, not that they care that much anyway (similar to my own apathy towards others’ stories).

Less League – Seven years later I am still playing, I enjoy playing but sometimes I play just to maintain my rank or even just cause I’m bored. But what does my rank matter. It doesn’t. I’m never gonna look back and think about my account as one of my crowning achievements and if  I do then I’ve clearly gone wrong somewhere along the way. I’ll probably keep playing till the end of the season, but after the season is over I try to cut back a lot, especially to make more room for studying.

Music – I’ve been wanting to get back into music for a while now. Whether that be picking up piano again or dusting of the ol’ saxophone. But like running, this is a tough one to get going because it’s been a while. Ideally my tangible for this would be 30 mins a day to start.

That’s it for my goals for now. Maybe I’ll share this with my friend and maybe he’ll share his with me and we can keep each other accountable.


At work the other day there was a dad at the museum with his two boys. The older boy was getting obviously upset over something, though I don’t know what. Dad pulled his son off the side to sit on one of the orange benches. I couldn’t here what he was saying, but I could see from the gesticulations of his tattooed arms and the expression on his bearded face that he was imparting some serious wisdom.

Finally I heard the dad say, “Alright stand up.” His son obeyed with reluctance. “And now I want you to say, ‘Self-control is my middle name!'”

“…self-control is my middle name…”

“Louder! Yell it!”

“Self-control is my middle name!” he repeated in a high-pitched scream, smiling through the dry tears on his face.

“Alright, but this time be serious; say it with confidence, like it’s coming from way deep inside you.”

“SELF-CONTROL IS MY MIDDLE NAME!” he boomed (as much as a 9ish year old could).

They shared a fist bump and a hug and then went off to another part of the museum.

Though I thought this was a little strange, at least it’s positive and sends the kid a good message. Self-control is something we often take for granted. Regardless of circumstance, regardless of what other people may think, regardless of any other external factors, we as individuals can control our response to any given situation. Whatever has led me up to this point now does not matter as much as what I choose to do going forward.

25 September 2017

Haven’t written for a couple days so I thought I should. Don’t really have a topic in mind today, just wanted to write something. It’s weird how our minds can get so fixated on certain things, especially irrational things.

Despite all the thoughts in my ahead, I am not writing much down. A lot of it is that I am trying to kind of filter what I publish for whatever reason. Sleepy.

TIAGF: My sibs, being the youngest, laughs