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Paternal Bias

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

While I was shampooing in the shower recently, my 2-year-old son took a respite from his rubber duckies to ask, "Daddy ha-ppiness?" My heart melted with paternal pride. It had been a long week. My own (precocious) flesh and blood sensed my fatigue and responded with empathic concern about my existential well-being.

Upon rinsing the shampoo out, I opened my eyes to a toddler pointing south of my waistline. I realized that my own (pedestrian) flesh and blood was utterly disinterested in my well-being. Instead, he was eager to confirm the anatomically obvious, "Daddy ha' penis?"

Despite the blow to my paternal pride, this interaction captured two important facets of social thinking. First, as we navigate our complex social worlds, we fill-in lots of blanks to make sense of incomplete information. We make educated guesses about what we don't quite hear. We read between the lines. We rely on assumptions.

Second, we then fill in these blanks in self-serving ways. As my son reminded me, we hear what we want to make ourselves feel better. ...

To read the complete article, visit the Huffington Post.

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