Does judgementality annoy you?

One of my pet peeves is judgementality – the way people draw a negative response to what they imagine to have happened, on what they superficially see – but without actually checking with the target of their judgement to discover the facts.

Screen shot from Id's classic 1992 shooter Wolfenstein 3D. Which wasnt, actually, in 3D, but hey...
Judgementality, Wolfenstein style…

It’s where the recent craze for ‘shaming’ comes from, among other things – where people are ‘shamed’ by others who judge them without knowing the context.

You know, somebody who hasn’t had an ice-cream for months finally decides to have one, and they’re walking along happily, when some stranger brushes by and says ‘you shouldn’t eat ice-cream all the time, you’ll get fat.’

It’s a form of bullying, and a very cowardly one at that. Finding out the facts isn’t difficult, and it’s not just polite – it means there’s less risk of injustice.

Judgementality usually involves various cognitive flaws – including the ‘recency effect’, and the supposition that what somebody’s just been seen doing is something they do all the time, everywhere.

Alas, judgementality seems so common that I can’t help thinking it’s part of the human condition. I suspect, in fact, that it’s a self-worth issue: by asserting their judgement over somebody else, somebody feels better for doing so.



Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016

10 thoughts on “Does judgementality annoy you?

  1. I agree – it’s one of my pet peeves too. In my mind, when I consider someone judgmental, the word is almost always preceded by “self-righteous”.

    I’ve just written a post about attitudes to abortion in the US. I have no problem with people being opposed to abortion – I do have a problem with those who want to make that decision for others, and institute laws to stop it. Amongst those who are anti-choice there are many who have had abortions themselves who seem to think their abortion was the only one that was done for so-called “moral” reasons in history. Women who are discovered to have had a termination are routinely shamed and all sorts of assumptions are made about them.

    I better stop. I think this is the second time this week I’ve started ranting in your comments Matthew! 🙂


    1. No problems with the rants in the comments section! 🙂 Always interesting. Yes, judgementality is often associated with self-righteousness. I think it has a lot to do with self-validation: people feel threatened by others, judge them as lacking, and so invalidate the threat. It’s a form of bullying.


  2. Totally agree, judgment is a form of (mostly unconscious, habitual and socially accepted) bullying, which the majority of people are guilty of at one time or other. As you guessed, it only serves to make the judgmental feel better and superior to the judged at that moment.
    It is time for society to wake up to this and think about the consequences, that it creates a downward spiral through negative expectations attracting more negative responses. It does not take a genius to break through the surface of the water to see a little more of the iceberg than just the tip…
    With a little more clarity and conscious thinking, we might be able to genuinely help if needed, rather than escalate the situation.


    1. You’re right: people who judge others do so because it makes them feel superior. I think the trick to transcending it is abstraction – stepping back and trying to see things outside the personal. It’s something we are, as people and in general as a society, not usually trained to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you – for the most part. Sometimes I am reminded that early life patterns affect the way I see things, and have to check that what I think is in fact true. But as for pure judgementalism, no – I believe that can cause a lot of harm.
    I try to apply the principle – the only person I have a right to judge is me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree: only oneself has a right to truly judge, because others don’t have the full picture. The issue of being shaped by early upbringing is an interesting one – it’s all too true, and certainly I’ve become well aware of the way that this worked for me.


  4. Judgementality doesn’t annoy me, but judging judgementality amuses me. It’s ver similar to being intolerant of intolerance.


  5. I agree that it’s tied to self-worth issues. I see similar behavior in those who enter businesses and treat the employees there, not as fellow human beings there to provide a service, but as their personal servants who’re expected to do their bidding regardless of the negative impact on other customers. Too, I’m concerned that over time many negative online behaviors, where the instigator hides behind their computer, will spill over into everyday life. Likely, they already are.


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