The Psychology of Judgmentalism – 2


In his book Making Judgments Without Being Judgmental, Terry Cooper distinguishes healthy judgment and judgmentalism by pointing to seven key distinctives (these are from Table 2.1, p. 28). The first distinctive is that healthy judgment is characerized by concern, whereas judgmentalism does not reflect concern for others. The second distinctive is that healthy judgment trusts others until given a reason not to; judgmentalism reads the minds of others, particularly motives. Third, healthy judgment reflects tolerance such that one holds moral concepts but does so in (with) love; judgmentalism holds onto moral concepts with intolerance toward others.

The fourth distinctive Terry Cooper identifies is that healthy judgment denounces behavior or ideas but not people; judgmentalism denounces the person. The fifth distinctive is that healthy judgment is open, recognizing tensions with a person’s own posiiton, while judgmentalism is characterized by “absolute certainty” (p. 28). Sixth, healthy judgment takes time – it is reasoned over time, while judgmentalism is reflected in quick or rash decisions based often in emotion. Finally, healthy judgment is unafraid of a careful decision-making process; judgmentalism is found in unreflective thinking.

For reflection: Do these capture the essential differences between healthy judgment and judgmentalism?  Are there other distinctives that are missing from this analysis? Can you think of practical examples of any of these characteristics of either healthy judgment or judgmentalism?

6 thoughts on “The Psychology of Judgmentalism – 2

  1. From reflection, I do find the 7 key distinctives to be very helpful. In fact, it helps me in my work as a people helper. I am at the point where by I need someone to teach me of these distinctions, like Newton Mahoney’s distinctives of Forgiveness. More of these please! 🙂

    The distinctives I will need to really digest them, make it a part of my belief system, so that I may live them out. Thank you for this excellent post.

  2. I am glad the post was helpful to you. I appreciated the distinctives, too. It is a fairly straightforward comparison and contrast that allows us to really reflect on what we tend toward in our daily interactions.

  3. I think Cooper’s seven key distinctions really help break down, in a practical manner, the essential differences between making judgments and being judgmental. While I had previously made some distinctions between making judgments and being judgmental, at least for myself, I did not have a clear way of conceptualizing the differences. One of the distinctions that most resonates with me is that judgmentalism is characterized by absolute certainty. I feel that especially as a future therapist it is imperative to be open to the understanding that while clients may not make the best decisions at times, they may be doing the best they can with the situation they are in and the skills they have, even if I do not agree with the decisions that they make. The absolute certainty of judgmentalism leaves no room for differing viewpoints and grace, both of which are important in therapy.

  4. […] I’ve been sidelined for days with some kind of flue-type bug; I’m behind on both reading and writing. So… until I can think clearly enough to blog something of my own, I recommend Mark Yarhouse’s The Psychology of Judgementalism and the The Psychology of Judgementalism -2. […]

  5. The “certainty” aspect is a great insight. There seems to me to be a difference in believing you are correct and arguing your case and claiming absolute certainty with respect to your view. If you don’t believe you are correct, there is no reason to argue your point, but there is a humility that comes with recognizing that your understanding of an issue could be wrong. That kind of humility can allow a person to make moral judgments while avoiding the judgmentalism that is so often a concern.

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