Attributions of characteristics and opinions

I just read a post from a fl teacher who uses a classroom reward. In saying so, she commented as an aside that she “knows” giving rewards is a big no-no but “we all work for something.”
Two things about this:
One, she states that we all work for something as a way of validating the whole behavioral theory of learning. I am not sure people who say this sort of thing can understand the objection, that it is not to the idea……. sure, I disagree but have no problem with people who say, “As I understand human motivation…….” or “The theory I follow says that……..” Those are qualified statements, recognizing that others may disagree. But “we all work for something” is a way of saying it that brooks no disagreement. And I do disagree, strongly. I could probably find in five minutes with this person several things she does for which there is no explicity reward.
Two, the attribution to others of viewpoints that they may or may not share. In this case, the writer attributes to some general “they” the belief that giving out rewards in class is a no-no. In this instance, she may be right, i.e. there are any number of schools of thought that proffer evidence that rewards are counterproductive. However, her attribution of this opinion to “them” reminded me of how often I’ve seen on posts this sort of attribution.
One of the salient ones was when a stalwart of one of the listservs, a politically conservative person with whom I had had plenty of political battles on the list, made a comment when I reported in a thread that I was a strong supporter of the free enterprise system. It seemed that he was surprised that I would be. Why?
I can only guess but I think that among conservatives there is a belief that if you do not follow traditional thought, you are radical, something in economic terms like a socialist, in theological terms an atheist, in political terms a Marxist. It is very similar to people’s perception of grammar: if you do not speak the way they do, then you lack grammar. The notion there might be grammar different from theirs never occurs to them. If they read that such is true, they dismiss it b/c it doesn’t fit their world view and preconceived notions. Some just yesterday said Creole doesn’t have any grammar; why not? Because it’s not the grammar of standard French AND, more importantly, the people who speak Creole are powerless to defend themselves.
I’m reading a book on the language situation in Norway. Always fraught, there have nevertheless been groups who have fought against the hegemony of the bureaucrats, clergy, and wealthy merchants who would prefer that Danish be spoken as well as written. The situation has changed but the Norwegian dialects are still in the minority, making up less than 20% of written usage including the language used in schools. It reminds me of the banishment of double negatives from English: it is so complete that it is impossible to take the situation back to before it became codified.
So we attribute all sorts of things to all sorts of people: illegal immigrants are this or that; tea partiers are this or that; teachers are this or that; movie stars are this or that. We attribute characteristics and thinking to them that may not be accurate. But can we change these pseudo-perceptions?

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