This is a concept that explains a lot. It means that when you see something or hear something, you simply interpret it to fit into your world view. This is why a conservative and a liberal can watch the same news programme, hear the same story told in the same words and come away having heard two entirely different versions of events.
Many people hold the view that having a disability is living a life of constant tragedy, living a live perpetually in need of help, living a life where everything is made difficult.
Thus: the norm becomes the exceptional.
Today I was on the BC Ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo heading north for a quick visit with family. We were on an early boat and lined up for breakfast at the on-board cafe. We'd placed our orders, Joe was waiting for the food to be delivered. I scooted on ahead to get us some tea. I picked up a cup, which was admittedly a long reach, and as I was about to set it down it slipped from my grip. The noise it made was disproportionate to the actual calamity.
The cashier, who I had notice watching me carefully as I was readying to make tea, leapt up at the sound of the dropping cup, a cup that did not break because it did not fall far. She rushed over and offered help. There was a desperation in her voice that would have been amusing if it wasn't so annoying. I told her I was fine. She insisted on helping. I refused, firmly. She practically begged to help. It was as if she expected my every move to end in disaster. after all, my life was a disaster, wouldn't everything else be an extension of that?
Now, let's be clear, I did not drop the cup because I was disabled, I dropped the cup because people sometimes drop cups and I am, last time I looked, most decidedly a member of the 'people species'. So, however, she conceptualized disability, jumped in and confirmatory bias took over. She couldn't see just a guy in a line up having a cup slip out of his hand. Instead she saw 'disability' as the root cause of every thing that might go wrong in my life. No wonder that people fear disability when they attribute regular human misfortune, accident and mishap as due to 'disability'. Most of what happens to disabled people happens to regular folks too ... except when regular folks drop cups, they are left to manage capably on their own because dropping a cup is no big deal. When you are normal, all things you do fall into the category of normal experiences. When you are 'deviant' or 'different' then all things, otherwise normal, become somehow tragic and kind of pathetic.
Confirmatory bias, is what it is ... bias.
Freud might have said, sometimes, a dropped cup is just a dropped cup.
But then, Freud was a smoker so what does he know?