Subjectivity refers đồ sộ the idea that individuals’ perceptions and interpretations are based on their personal beliefs, biases, emotions, mental heuristics, and unique perspectives.
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Subjectivity is the opposite of objectivity, which refers đồ sộ unbiased and universal facts derived through scientific analysis.
Today, we generally understand that objectivity is extremely hard đồ sộ achieve. Our everyday thoughts and analyses tend đồ sộ be filtered through our own personal perspectives. However, scientists hold that many physical facts can be approached through the scientific method which can get us as close as possible đồ sộ an approximation of objectivity.
- Taste in music: The varying tastes in music demonstrates how our perspectives on the same thing can vary significantly. Polarizing genres lượt thích country music demonstrate how one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
- Political views: A person’s political affiliations are likely shaped by factors such as position on the social hierarchy, views of social justice, economic ideology, upbringing, personal values, and more. As a result, one government can be loved by one person and detested by another.
- Perception of beauty: There may be dominant ideas about beauty standards in our world today, but these perceptions have changed over time and cultures, demonstrating subjectivity. For example, in 16th Century France, women tried đồ sộ become more ‘plump’ as it was seen as a sign of class and affluence!
- Interpretation of art: Art is one area where subjectivity is valued and celebrated. Artworks can be polarizing. Furthermore, some art is intentionally ambiguous in order đồ sộ encourage people đồ sộ come up with their own – subjective – perspectives.
- Moral and ethical beliefs: Even ethics and morality are contested due đồ sộ subjectivity. There are no shared universal values among all humans on earth, as our values are often shaped by our culture and religion. This has led đồ sộ the conundrum of moral relativism – should we respect that other people have different morals, or try đồ sộ force our own morals on everyone else?
- Favorite color: With children, one of the simplest ways đồ sộ teach subjectivity is đồ sộ demonstrate how one person’s favorite color is not necessarily the same as someone else’s!
- Sense of humor: What one person finds humorous might be seen as completely offensive đồ sộ another person.,Humor depends on a range of factors such as personal tastes, cultural norms, and even the specific context in which it is delivered (e.g. a board room vs a comedy club).
- Emotional responses đồ sộ events: Therapists need đồ sộ be aware of subjectivity đồ sộ come đồ sộ acknowledge that two people may respond emotionally đồ sộ an sự kiện in completely different ways. This means that each person who sits on the therapy chair needs đồ sộ be treated as an individual with their own unique sets of needs.
- Best teaching methods: Educators may have differing opinions on the most effective teaching techniques. This may be influenced by personal experience in the classroom as children or experiences as educators. Furthermore, it appears there are dominant teaching methods across different cultures, with some cultures embracing drill-and-repeat methods while others embrace project-based learning.
- Perception of success: While some people measure success by money, fame, or material possessions, others view success in terms of health or the happiness of their family. Factors such as personal goals and individual values can affect what you believe success đồ sộ be.
- Food preferences: People’s likes and dislikes for certain foods (Asian dishes, Mexican, etc.) are influenced by factors such as what they ate when they were growing up and individual taste buds.
- Interpretation of literature: Some people have a taste for the classics while others prefer modern airport literature. Still other people think the idea of reading a book is horrid altogether! This may be influenced by a person’s upbringing, patience, and temperament.
- Workplace dynamics: Co-workers may have varying opinions on the most effective ways đồ sộ manage tasks, communicate, and proceed with projects in the workplace. This often leads đồ sộ differences of opinions about the leadership team’s decisions.
- Fashion choices: People’s preferences for clothing styles and trends are influenced by personal tastes, cultural norms, and simply the fashion of the day. While many people follow the crowd, some others choose đồ sộ go their own way and make a statement with what they wear.
- Spiritual beliefs: Individuals’ spiritual beliefs and practices may differ widely. This is often based on upbringing which is a big indicator of a person’s religion in adulthood. However, philosophical perspectives play a big part in whether a person remains glued đồ sộ the religious perspectives of their parents.
- Parenting styles: The ways people parent can be very divisive. Parents may adopt different approaches đồ sộ raising their children based on their personal values, childhood experiences, or even their own aptitude at managing children. This has led đồ sộ a range of subjective opinions on the “best” way đồ sộ parent.
- Perception of time: Two people can spend 3 hours doing a task and one person can think it flew by while another felt it dragged along forever. This perception is often based on how enjoyable the task felt. More enjoyable tasks tend đồ sộ lead us đồ sộ lose track of time and feel lượt thích it’s passing faster.
- Ideal vacation destination: Individuals may have different preferences for travel destinations. In fact, my wife loves beaches and I love a ski vacation! This has led đồ sộ a need for compromising over the years.
- Interpretation of historical events: People’s understanding and interpretation of historical events can be influenced by their personal beliefs, national identity, and cultural perspectives. It may also have đồ sộ vì thế with the propaganda they were taught at school.
- Personal values: What individuals deem important in their lives, such as family, career, or personal growth, is subjective. It may be influenced by factors lượt thích temperament, life experiences, and upbringing.
- Views on risk-taking: People’s attitudes towards risk-taking can vary significantly, leading đồ sộ different decision-making thruoghout life. Some individuals are more conservative and others more adventurous. This may affect what sort of career you go into, the holidays you take, and sánh on.
- Assessment of emotions in others: The ability đồ sộ understand and interpret others’ emotions can be a subjective process. Personal biases, heuristics, blindspots, empathy levels, and prior experiences can influence this.
- Perception of fairness: What one person perceives as fair or just may not be perceived the same way by another. For example, one person may see the redistribution of wealth through taxation đồ sộ be fair while another person may see it as theft!
- Interpretation of dreams: Dreams can hold different meanings for different individuals. If you wake up and tell your dream đồ sộ your friend, they may see one message in it, while you may have thought it meant something different entirely. Sometimes, getting a variety of views can help you đồ sộ clarify what your perspective is.
- Comfort levels in social situations: This is also known as the introvert/extravert divide. Some people love đồ sộ go out and buổi tiệc nhỏ with strangers, while others would prefer đồ sộ be at trang chính with one or two close friends (or even all alone).
Subjectivity vs Objectivity
Subjectivity and objectivity each have their place in society. Both pure objectivity and pure subjectivity can be flawed and can be supported by the other.
They are in many ways complementary opposites. Subjectivity is bad at things that objectivity tends đồ sộ be good at (e.g. consistency, scientific reasoning). At the same time, objectivity has blindspots that subjectivity illuminates (depth of understanding, empathy, explaining motivations).
Below are some pros and cons of each.
Pros and Cons of Subjectivity
|Pros of Subjectivity||Cons of Subjectivity|
|Allows for a deep understanding of people’s experiences and emotions. In research, for example, qualitative interviews that allow people đồ sộ share their subjective experiences tend đồ sộ illuminate insights that a population-wide quantitative survey would overlook.||Can lead đồ sộ biased judgments. Subjectivity is innevitably biased. If we acknowledge that our views are subjective and based on past experiences, we need đồ sộ be aware that we are approaching a situation with a bias or slant, rightly or wrongly. Or past experiences can cloud our judgement.|
|Encourages diverse perspectives. Recognition of subjectivity helps us đồ sộ understand and pay attention đồ sộ the fact that there is a diversity of perspectives in our world. With such knowledge, we might be more inclined đồ sộ welcome people with differing views into our lines of communication đồ sộ try đồ sộ understand what unique insights they can offer đồ sộ us.||Can cause misunderstandings. Subjectivity can be seen as problematic because it shows us that people can take from a situation very different interpretations from the person next đồ sộ them. This, of course, is an innevitability if you accept that the world is full of subjectivity.|
|Promotes empathy. Awareness and acceptance of subjectivity can promote empathy. By acknowledging the existence of different perspectives, we can try đồ sộ see things from others’ points of views without dismissing them as wrong.||Devalues objective truths. An over-emphasis on subjectivity can draw our attention away from trying đồ sộ come as close as possible đồ sộ an aproximation of truthfulness. Sometimes, people are wrong, and their views should not be justified as being ‘just an opinion’.|
Pros and Cons of Objectivity
|Pros of Objectivity||Cons of Objectivity|
|Ensures consistency. By setting out standards of objectivity, such as a scientific method, we can ensure that our processes, procedures, and accepted facts are generated through a consistent intellectual framework.||Devalues difference. If we are too focused on seeking objectivity, we may fail đồ sộ understand that the world is full of grey areas, differences, and nuances that can’t be explained without accepting that there are multiple possible (and often all valid) interpretations of a situation.|
|Reduces misunderstandings. If we all seek đồ sộ come đồ sộ an objective truth, we will be able đồ sộ agree on a great khuyễn mãi giảm giá more shared facts (e.g. social facts). This may lead đồ sộ less misunderstanding and possibly even more social harmony. The difficulty here is getting people from diverse cultures, religions, academic fields, etc. đồ sộ agree upon a mix of ‘objective standards’ for seeking the truth!||Limits the scope for creativity and innovation. If we live in an ultra-rational world where everyone shared the same mix of truths, facts, and procedures for achieving them, we’d have far less creativity in this world. For example, Max Weber argued that rationalization of bureaucracies – where bureaucracies place a strong focus on objective standards – limits their creativity and innovaition.|
|Encourages evidence-based thinking. Since the rise of rationalization, society has highly valued objectivity because it generates evidence about trends that can make future predictions. This can significantly tư vấn rational decision-making.||Lacks depth of understanding. In academic research, the accepted weakness of research that seeks objectivity is that it fails đồ sộ find nuance and complexity in a sitaution. For example, a multiple-choice survey of patients in a hospital might generate excellent quantitative objective data, but deep interviews that help us see subjective perspectives can lead đồ sộ far deeper understandings of patients’ needs.|
Being aware of our own subjectivity helps us đồ sộ question our assumptions and preconceptions. If we know and understand that thoughts tend đồ sộ be based on subjectivity, we can more conscioulsy strive đồ sộ empahtize with others.
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Our own self-awareness of our subjectivity can also help us humbly acknowledge that each of us are not the sole arbiters of truth. The world is very complex and hard đồ sộ objectively analyze.
In both personal and professional contexts, an appreciation for subjectivity is indispensable for navigating interpersonal relationships, resolving conflicts, and fostering a more compassionate society.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over trăng tròn articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]
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