Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error Page: 2
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predetermined ideals as misguided and limiting. A knotty old tree, considered useless by those
around him because it could not produce useful timber- the prescribed mark of a useful tree-
provided shade for Chuang Tzu (Watson, 1996). The ability to label is of course often useful, and
one of our more common uses of the human linguistic tool. Nevertheless, it can also lead us to
overlook what actually is in the search of what previously conditioned linguistic relations
suggest ought to be; a chair, constrained to being used as a seat could fail to serve as a protective
weapon during a home burglary. How funny it might be to read a newspaper report of a man who
simply watched his home burglarized because the chair he sat in ought to be used only for
Perhaps, in the very same manner, a person described as a "woman"- a term loaded with
a myriad of expectations and definitions - might be more likely to behave in concordance with
verbally defined prescriptions of womanhood, for better or for worse. In fact, this has been
posited to be the case in feminist theory and psychological research supports the idea (Roth &
Basow, 2004). The role that gender construction plays easily affects behavior more than actual
biological characteristics of men and women (Wachs, 2006). Unfortunately the effects of verbal
rules on what black people, white people, Hispanic people, male people, and so on, can do
continue to plague lives and hinder opportunities in more subtle, though equally insidious ways.
As an example, consider stereotype threat. The mere mention of negative stereotypes about
women's mathematical abilities meaningfully alters women's actual computational performance
(Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999). That is all to say: definitions, labels, and others words, and
shape the way that we see the world. We make boxes where there is perhaps only intricate
infinity and we often do this for good reasons. Quantifying, calculating, and separating into
comprehensible units works in many situations of our everyday lives. It is not a practice that
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Schmalz, Jonathan. Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error, thesis, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103389/m1/8/: accessed March 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .