What a helpful exercise! I’ll have to keep this one in mind for the future.
The assumptions you talk about make me think of the Fundamental Attribution Error. From Wikipedia:
Fundamental attribution error is the tendency for people to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics (personality) to explain someone else’s behavior in a given situation rather than considering the situation’s external factors.
In other words, if I see a person who is homeless or undergoing some other form of hardship, I’m likely to assume that it’s some sort of inherent character flaw, instead of considering the situational causes.
What can we do about the fundamental attribution error? The solutions are simple, if not easily put into practice:
Be aware of our own psychological biases and ask ourselves if we are letting them cloud reality, really get to know people before making judgments, and hope that there are more people like Wyatt Massey to continue educating others.