How Do We Really Judge Other People?

PinExt How Do We Really Judge Other People?

multicultural How Do We Really Judge Other People?

We all like to believe that we judge people fairly.  It is obviously frowned upon in our society to think that a person is discriminated against based on external factors.  However, study after study seems to reiterate that we do make such judgements about people.  The first impressions we get of people are very strong and it is often difficult for us to change our minds. 

Whether we like to admit it or not, we usually draw a conclusion about a person from their looks.  This then affects how we treat that person.  This is obviously unfair and deserves our utmost attention to correct.  We have to be honest with ourselves about how we discriminate and make a conscious effort to correct this bad behavior.

External factors that we so easily use to judge people.

It is very easy to jump to conclusions about people based strictly on how they look.  We all do it even though we don’t like to admit it.  Here are some ways that we judge people that seem unfair.

1.  The color of a person’s skin.

It has been shown time and again that people favor others based on the color of their skin.  One study found that light skinned blacks were more likely to be described as intelligent, attractive, or wealthy while darker skinned blacks were often labeled as poor, criminal or tough/aggressive.  We often don’t even realize or acknowledge that we hold such biases.

2.  A person’s weight.

We’ve probably all heard or seen the stories about skinny actresses dressing up in fat suits and finding that people blow them off because they appear obese.  This test has been conducted many times.  There truly is a weight bias in America.  Overweight people are often seen as undisciplined, disorganized, and unattractive.  They are discriminated against when competing for jobs, made fun of on television, and rejected by the trendy.  Does a person’s weight really mean so much?

3.  The clothes on a person’s back.

I remember feeling pressure to wear the right thing in high school and although the discrimination is much more subtle now, I think it still exists.  Right or wrong, people judge you on the clothes you wear.  We jump to conclusions about a person’s success, professionalism and even talent based on their wardrobe.

4.  The age of a person.

America is growing older, but as a society we fail to respect our elders.  I don’t know if it is because we all are in denial of growing older or what, but those above a certain age are often treated as though they don’t have a brain.  Few people in the United States seem to give older folks credit for their wisdom and experience.  Instead, we judge them harshly and chuckle behind their backs about their failings.

5.  Whether a person is male or female.

It is true that in certain situations it pays to be one sex over the other.  There are jobs where biases against one sex clearly exist.  Women have long felt that men often get paid more to do the same work even at executive levels.  At a more practical level, my wife realizes that she judges people based on their sex.  She tells me she is more likely to open our front door if a visiting stranger is a woman versus a man.  How does this bias spill over into other areas of judgement?

Is it possible to stop judging people on external factors?

Clearly it is difficult to discern when our personal biases are impacting our judgement.  These biases are burned into our psyche at an early age.  Our minds tend to quickly jump to conclusions about people with little real evidence. 

However, discrimination of this type is not good for us.  It robs us of opportunities to build relationships with healthy, loving, intelligent people.  We have a choice and I believe it is possible for us to override these biases if we consciously choose to do so.  It takes effort, but this is what separates humans from other animals.  We can choose our behavior.  We do not have to react without choice to our tendencies.

A better list to use to judge people.

Rather than relying on false first impressions, it is better to suppress this urge and delve deeper into more accurate indicators of a person’s true worth.  Here is a better list of questions to consider when sizing up another person.

1.  Are they a person of integrity?

A person’s actions should match their words.  How do they act when they think no one is watching?  If they don’t do the right thing, then you may want to avoid getting involved in a relationship.  A person should be trustworthy.  They should have a proven track record of honesty, authenticity and openness.  They may look good on the outside, but if they lack integrity, then trouble is likely not far over the horizon.

2.  How do they treat others close to them?

A person should demonstrate they care about other people in their life.  You want to look at how they react when others are ill, in need, or have a problem.  This is a great time to get a glimpse into what kind of heart the person has.  Are they involved in anything bigger than themselves?  Do they make any kind of meaningful contribution to the world for which they volunteer or earn very little?  These kinds of actions will tell you something real about a person’s worth.

3.  Where have they applied their skill and talent?

Look at what a person has actually done with their life to get an idea of who they really are.  Where did they go to school?  What did they study?  What are they passionate about?  Engage them in a conversation on a topic they enjoy.  This will expose their intelligence.  Listen for their sense of humor and wit.  Find out what they consider their greatest accomplishment.  These things will reveal a lot about a person.

A person is more than their outsides reveal.

It takes more time and effort to really get to know a person before judging them.  I’m not sure if we can totally override our preconceptions, but I think we must try to quiet them while we delve deeper.  The color of a person’s skin shouldn’t matter nor should their age, sex, weight, or what clothes they wear.  There are many interesting, smart, and valuable people that don’t fit the mold that our society has created.  It is up to us to decide how we will judge people.

How do you judge people?

Photo by danorth1

PinExt How Do We Really Judge Other People?

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19 thoughts on “How Do We Really Judge Other People?

  1. Instantly from reading your title my internal response was:

    “Yes we do”

    Funnily, whenever I judge people now I often notice it, and stop judging them. It’s so automated in us now but we do have a choice to change it.

    Who is in control, us or our mind? I like to think us. How about you, Jeff?

    Read Glen Allsopp’s lastest article – Create Your Own Reality in 6 Steps

  2. The operative word is “how”. We all judge people…but we must judge by their actions…not anything else. That was one the things I tried to instill in my kids. Well…seems I only suceeded with 2 of the 3 !

    Am I perfect in this area? No way…..I am still a work in progress!!

  3. It is easy to judge others based on external factors. Social conditioning also makes us place greater values on factors like how poor the person looks or how much he or she is earning. I would agree that it is far better to get to know the inner core of the other person. It is like you said, really a choice.

    Read Evelyn Lim’s lastest article – Blessings For Healing

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  5. Great post! Some thoughts: I sense an assumption that with each of the external characteristics you mention that one is “good” and the other is “bad.” I don’t think so. Extremes at either end of the dichotomy are generally not perceived well. Examples: It is also “bad” to be too skinny, too pale, and too young. I also think that those people who judge external characteristics of others most harshly are the same people who are most sensitive to the judgments of others. The less time we spend in superficial judgment of others, the less time we will spend worrying about how we’re being judged. What a great way to reduce stress and increase happiness!

    • Bosco, I just had to comment back upon what you mentioned about the judging of others. I TOTALLY agree…(or did I “judge” the way that you approached it?)ha. But isn’t it true, how the superficial judgment affects the ones that came up with it anyway? Wow, makes me see way back in time…in life.

      I am all for increasing everyones happiness and reducing the stress too…just breathe!

  6. I think that you should definitely not judge people on their appearance. For example…
    It was the first day of cooking class, and I was wearing a sweatshirt with ripped jeans and sneakers. I know this is not the most pleasant of outfits but oh well. ANYWAYS, I am a straight A student and always have been. My cooking teacher, of course, had judged me by my appearance already and told me to have a partner to sit with when no one else had one(making the connection that I was not intelligent enought to write on a computer by myself). When we started, my partner was of course messing with the computer. Soon my cooking teacher tapped in to the computer and we BOTH got sent to the principals office. THEN I GOT BLAMED FOR THE WHOLE THING and the principal told me that if I really cared about school then I should start paying attention and dress like I actually wanted to learn. WOW! The following week our report cards were handed out. All A’s and one B+ except for the cooking grade of a C?! What do you think of that?

    • anonymous, surely you thinking that the others discriminated against you based on appearance is a judgement of your own, you dont actually know for sure why they acted that way

    • Well, They should be glad to have you at the school and alot of people cant afford good clothes (Not saying that you can’t cause im pretty sure you can)

  7. Hi,

    I came across your post when I was drafting an article on a similar topic. The way you contrasted the external factors and the appropriate factors to be used in judging people is indeed interesting. Perhaps it is high time human beings stop judging those around them for the sake of judging.

    Anyways, I have your blog mentioned on mine. Cheers!
    .-= SHZ´s last blog ..People Don’t Know People Unless They Want To =-.

  8. I think that you hit the nail right on the head with the things that people base many of their judgments on. I also agree with your list of acceptable areas in which a person could and should be judged. I really like the first one the integrity of the person but I think that is a very subjective way in which do judge someone. I am not saying that detracts from their appropriateness or the fact that I would agree that they are the best solutions but I wonder how often this would go wrong. Feel free to read my blog about judging at

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  10. I know for a fact when I am logged on to the net I am instantly being judged by people ;) who think I dont know them but I recognize every single one of them…what I mean is well lets just say “hackers”…anyways its sad how some people start judging others without any knowledge or physical proof when they are told the whole story then they say opps we made a mistake but then it is too late to apologize right when you try to ruin someone on purpose and then fail dont expect them to be kind and nice to you especially when you have been warned several times spying,hacking on others is wrong but if you do not understand that fact and continue to be stubborn then by all means you can go to hell :) – what is this guy saying? it will all become clear very soon.

    • This really srsuriped me. This was not what i was expecting at all and it makes my heart swell slightly. Not just the content of the video which was beautifully honest and truly emotional, but also the fact that you would show it in your blog and email it to all your subscribers. This is more of what the world needs. If more people of any level of prestige such as yourself were to put aside their own personal gain for a moment and use their influence towards spreading certain positive world views and morals then we would be slowly working our way towards that utopia’ that society has always been dreaming of.Well done

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