The Psychology of Judgmentalism – 6


Terry Cooper begins to walk the reader through steps of sorts for responding to judgmentalism. In Chapter 6 titled “Authoritative Judgments Vs. Authoritarian Judgmentalism,” he introduces ideas for responding to black and white thinkers. These include encouraging them “into a situation in which they confront different viewpoints” (p. 116) and taking on other perspectives (by asking about the context of how a person came to reach their conclusions). Cooper also suggests we understand an authoritarian person’s fear – that anxiety and insecurity fuels abusiveness. He also suggests we focus on the purpose or goal of conversation – that is, to focus on mutual understanding and respect rather than scorekeeping.


Perhaps nothing comes easier than to treat an authoritarian in an authoritarian manner. But again, the ultimate goal of life is not to crack their facade and reveal how insecure authoritarian thinkers really are. The point is not to treat the authoritarian like a cognitive leper. The goals is instead to invite greater humanness in a dialogue enveloped by care. We can affirm the person while disagreeing with the viewpoint. Uncaring argument does not help in the pursuit of truth. (p. 120)


For reflection: How have you responding to authoritarian thinking in others? What strategies have you found helpful for responding to them? 

2 thoughts on “The Psychology of Judgmentalism – 6

  1. I’ve found that the hard brutal entry into another authoritarian’s ideas is the least effective way UNLESS if he has real trust and respect for you.

    Many times, I find that the ‘inviting for more responses, to broaden the dialogue of the authoritarian’s ideas’ helps him more. But I also realize that I cannot invite too much, lest he stone walls and walks out anyway.

    The problem I face with authoritarian is that I respond likewise. I have to learn to contain the situation and focus on that I can be in a position to expand my own view of the topic as well as his.

  2. That’s been my experience, too. I tend to have much more success if I have a relationship with the person and try to “unpack” what it is they are saying, how they got there, and so on. Sometimes personal narratives of the authoritarian helps create a precedent for personal narrative informing how others reach their conclusions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s