The Psychology of Judgment

On why external judgment is based on internal knowledge, and the necessity to understand subjective and objective aspects as well as qualitative and quantitative factors in judgment.

Human knowledge and judgment are interrelated and people usually judge others according to how much they know about other people. Judgment is based on several external factors like attitudes, beliefs and of course knowledge. Judgment can be largely subjective although I would argue that it is necessary to develop a framework for objective judgment.

Let’s consider an example. You want to judge the work of an artist or a poet. If you are unable to understand the artist’s subjective impression of creativity, you will not be able to judge correctly. So there are two things you must consider while judging someone’s work. First, come up with a chart, table or matrix on a person’s subjective and objective attributes. What is the background of the artist? Why did he create the particular work of art? What is the motivation of the artist? What are the subjective conditions that helped him to create the piece of art? What are the obvious or objective attributes of the artist such as his training or affiliations? Consider the subjective attributes of the artist and how he thinks or expresses himself. Secondly, consider the subjective and objective attributes of the work of art. What are the different interpretations of the work of art? Is the art piece well executed in precision and detail? So for every judgment consider the subjective and objective attributes of the author or artist and the subjective and objective attributes of the writing or work of art or poetry or essay that you will judge. Every judgment must be comprehensive with all these four considerations of subjective and objective attributes of the individual concerned and subjective and objective attributes of the work.

It is necessary to develop objective judgment and consider an individual and his work on the basis of some objective measurements. For instance, at work if you must judge your colleagues, juniors or even superiors, you must do so according to a well-developed objective system of measuring attributes. This could be a matrix, rating scale, chart, table or questionnaire. Systematic and objective judgments are far more productive and useful to others than disorganized subjective judgments that are personally formed according to one’s beliefs and attitudes. So, let’s say you are a customer of a product and you are required to judge the functionalities of the product, you must give your judgment in a systematic manner according to a specific tool or a questionnaire or rating scale. Systematic judgment is always more productive for a company than a random judgment which you describe in a few sentences because systematic judgments can be quantified. Organizations and companies are most productive when they develop a systematic rating or judgment scale for their activities, performance and products as this helps these organizations to quantify and assess their capabilities and weaknesses in a precise manner.

If the performance of a company or organization, an individual or a product requires a systematized tool for judgment, you would ask “how do we effectively judge people or products randomly?” Now suppose you are traveling or shopping. You are judging people and things all the time. This is unconscious judgment and our everyday judgment is based not on a systematic tool for judgment but rather on our internal knowledge, beliefs and attitudes. When we shop, we judge the products. When we socialize, we judge people’s actions and behavior, when we travel we judge the culture and customs of the people living in the region. So we unconsciously judge others and often even ourselves and our actions, and this judgment is more random, instantaneous rather than objective or systematic. This random everyday judgment is usually very subjective. So,in order to judge people or products better and to make better decisions, your judgments must consider the objective and subjective attributes of the individual being judged or the subjective and objective attributes of the products being considered. So next time you judge a person or go shopping and need to make your judgments before buying a product, develop a quick matrix or table in your head and consider all the objective and subjective components of the individual or product. Your own inner knowledge is key to this process of judgment. Before making a judgment, develop your understanding or knowledge of the product or the person. So, do this little exercise before you go shopping for a product or trying to invest in the next company. Create a matrix if the subjective and objective attributes of the company and its products or services. What is the difference between subjective and objective attributes? Well, the subjective attributes of a company or product could relate to names, colors of the product or how these could be subjectively interpreted by the audience or customers. The objective attributes of a company or product or individual are more tangible, measurable and in case of a product could be related to shape or price, for an individual objective attributes are about external physical features or for a company it could be sales, company ratings and annual financial performance.

So read up and do your research on a company or a product before you decide to buy a product or invest in a company. Your knowledge is an essential part of the judgment and since personal, random judgments are unsystematic or even unscientific, and based primarily on your subjective understanding, attitudes, beliefs and knowledge, try to come up with a way that will change your subjective judgment into an objective one. You can do this by developing a table, chart, graphic plot or matrix. Once you are used to this sort of systematic judgment, you will find that you are able to make better decisions. Initially developing a method of systematic decision-making could be tedious and time-consuming, because you have to sit and draw a table or graph. However with every systematic judgment, you will get better at the exercise and will be finally able to come to a sound decision by considering the objective and subjective factors inside your head. Now suppose a woman is trying to buy a handbag, will she draw up a chart, or a matrix to decide whether she should buy the handbag? You will say, this kind of quantification takes away the fun from shopping. Yet systematic decision-making us about making precise judgments that will balance the objective and subjective factors. So, even if the woman does not actually sit with her chart or matrix, she should consider the table or chart of subjective and objective factors of the product in her head before reaching the final decision. In fact if the handbag is really expensive, it is advisable to come up with your own systematized tool of decision-making. Handbags apart, this sort of methodical and systematic judgment will help you to be analytical and objective, you can easily delineate the factors that will facilitate in the decision-making process. Thus, using your inner knowledge and attitudes or beliefs in making a judgment will get you halfway and will possibly provide with a qualitative insight. You must use a quick systematic and analytical or measurable, quantitative or objective method before making a final judgment and before reaching a decision.

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