Even if it is difficult to admit, we have all judged people around us at some point. Believe it or not, judging others is deeply ingrained in human behavior. It is an instinct that is very difficult to suppress, despite our best efforts at being non-judgmental. But why do we even judge others? The answer to this question is quite complex. This article looks at the psychological reasons why we judge other people:
Judging is Natural
Scientific studies have indicated that judgment is a natural instinct of the human brain. As humans, surviving and thriving are our basic instincts. As a consequence, we automatically end up judging people around us to determine if they are safe to be with. Research conducted at New York University shows that our brain begins to label people trustworthy or untrustworthy even before we get time to consciously analyze their faces. This study highlights the fact that judgment is natural and instinct-based.
Sometimes judging others can be a habit learned in childhood. If someone grows up in a household where they have seen their parents judging each other or even their siblings, they might grow up believing that judging others is normal. Similarly, if someone studied in a school where there was regular criticism from teachers, they might end up adopting the same behavior. Judging others may also be a response to some form of trauma experienced in childhood.
Judging Others makes people feel good about themselves
For some people, judging others is a way to feel better about themselves. When they criticize someone, it gives them a feeling of superiority, which in turn might boost their ego. This kind of judgment can be for anything, such as looks, financial status, social standing, etc. However, at a deeper level, this could be a sign of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. When people don’t like themselves, they might rely on putting others down as a means of feeling better.
People have their own definitions by which they judge others
Most of us have our own set of rules for what we consider right or wrong, good or bad. When people look at others through their own set of rules, they often end up judging the other person.
Feelings of Envy
Envy is one of the most common reasons why we might judge others. When we judge others around us, we sometimes tend to focus on their perceived advantages or qualities, which can trigger feelings of envy. We may compare ourselves to others and, in the process, judge them harshly due to our own insecurities or unfulfilled desires.
It is a way to gain acceptance
All of us want to feel that we belong to a group. It is an important part of our identity. In a group, judging others can be a way to feel ‘together’ or gain acceptance. Judging and laughing at others might be a way to gain attention from a group as well.
Our tendency to judge others has deep roots in nature and instinct. Some amount of judgment is necessary for our safety as well. However, it is important to be aware that judgment can be very problematic if it becomes a habit. Practicing self-awareness, compassion, empathy, and curiosity are a few ways in which you can work on this habit.
- 9 Psychological Reasons Why Some People Are So Judgmental. (2021, September 1). A Conscious Rethink. https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/16811/why-are-people-judgmental/
- Killian, J. (2020, July 20). Why We Judge Others & How To Stop—Anxiety Therapist in New Haven. https://arcadiancounseling.com/why-we-judge-others-how-to-stop/
- Our Brains Immediately Judge People. (2014, August 6). Time. https://time.com/3083667/brain-trustworthiness/
- Rising Above the Mental Habit of Judging Others | Balanced Achievement. (2016, October 10). https://balancedachievement.com/personal-development/areas-of-life/judging-others/