Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is there a difference between opinions and judgments?

Asked by wundayatta (58349 points ) February 7th, 2011

Sometimes I get the feeling that some women think I should just shut up because what they do is just for themselves and nothing to do with me. I’m dumbfounded by this. It’s my opinion. You don’t have to pay any attention to it. Unless you want to.

Should you express your opinion about how another person looks or behaves? If so, when? Or should we all shut up and keep our opinions about other people to ourselves because other people will take them as judgments?

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26 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

Perhaps you should express you opinion only if it’s asked?

The Code of Thumper

YARNLADY's avatar

In my opinion, judging people is an expression of your opinion. Opinions should be offered when asked for.

john65pennington's avatar

Go into any criminal courtroom on any given day and you will understand the difference between opinions and judgements.

WasCy's avatar

Hmm… I’m not sure what your context is here, but in real life I don’t offer a lot of critical “opinions” (nowhere near as often as I do here, anyway), but if I see, for example, a woman in my office who’s dressed really oddly, I might ask her, for example, if she’s attempting to go for “a look” with her outfit. And if she told me, “I’m trying to look like a hooker” or “I’m trying to look like a bag lady” (depending on the outfit), then I could offer the opinion: “Well, you sure nailed it. That is definitely the look you’ve achieved.” Not that these conversations have occurred.

I’d never walk up to that woman and tell her that she looked like a hooker / bag lady. That would be rude and unkind. Whether she “pays attention” to that or not, if I have an ugly thought about her and voice it to her, then it’s going to hurt her to the extent that she can’t avoid paying some attention to it. I can’t think why I’d want to do that.

On the other hand, if she was doing something dangerous, and didn’t even appear to understand (or care) how dangerous it was to herself or someone else, then I’d speak up, and no one could stop me. And those conversations have occurred.

JLeslie's avatar

Here’s the thing. Many women are not self assured, and are kind of raised to be obedient, and care what others think, so when they hear an opinion, for some it feels like you are telling them what to do, even if it is not your intention to do so. It is them, not you. If you qualify it with, “this is just my opinion,” or ask, “do you want my opinion,” before launching into your opinion it might help. Men tend to be more analytical, and also more likely to not give a shit what other people think. When it comes to commenting on someones looks or behavior that is really touchy, unless it is a requirement of work and you are their supervisor. Otherwise be sure to always put the criticism in a positive way. Like, if a woman wears her hair up, but you think it would be better down, when it ia down be sure to tell her you prefer her hair that way. But, I would refrain from telling her when her hair is up that you prefer it down.

Not sure I helped or made sense, I am so tired right now. Do you have a specific example you are thinking of?

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t comment on someone’s appearance (to their face ;-)) unless asked for my opinion, or if they are asking me why certain things are occurring and I feel that the reason is traceable to that person’s appearance.

Same thing with the way someone behaves – unless I think it is offensive or damaging in some other way.

Now, when it comes to the subsequent conversation, or a general idea about a persons looks or actions, it’s my opinion for as long as I feel that it’s basically subjective and I’m open to evidence to the contrary or further explanation. It becomes my judgment when, for one reason or another, my mind is made up.

Most of the time when I make judgments, it’s the result of exhaustion from trying to flesh out or defend an opinion.

downtide's avatar

I think very few people, female or otherwise, are comfortable with hearing other people’s unsolicited opinions about them, especially if they’re not totally flattering and complimentary. If an opinion is asked for, then that’s different, and as already mentioned, if someone’s behaviour is causing harm or concern then it should be pulled up, but otherwise I think it’s better to keep ones’ opinions to oneself.

mattbrowne's avatar

Unlike opinions judgment usually involves moral and ethics. Morality refers to an adopted code of conduct within an environment and a set of agreed upon rules for what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Ethics relates to the philosophy behind a moral outcome. While morals define our character, ethics dictate the working of a social system. Ethics point towards the application of morality (Source: Gaynor Borade).

Some opinions can also be judgments, while others are not. In my opinion the Munich soccer team will make it to the finals of the European champions league. In my opinion PID should be applied under certain circumstances.

Sandman's avatar

It all depends; are your opinions judgemental?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts-Mark Twain
I’d rather have a sound judgment than a talent.-Mark Twain

flutherother's avatar

Expressing your opinion about others can be hurtful, that is why it is best to be tactful. It doesn’t always mean saying nothing. There may be diplomatic ways of communicating your opinions.

wundayatta's avatar

Actually, I wasn’t thinking of opinions about specific individuals. I was thinking about opinions about a class of things. Such as, to use @WasCy‘s example, one might say, “I don’t like the ‘hooker’ look.” A woman might take exception to that, and say that hookers aren’t dressing for you, the implication being that they dress like a hooker, so therefore they are taking the opinion as a judgment of them.

Is it a judgment of individuals if you are stating an opinion about a look? It’s not as if you’re saying “I don’t like Republicans.”

People state an opinion about musical tastes all the time. “I don’t like rap.” Are rap aficionados going to take that personally, seeking to somehow defend the genre? Are they justified in taking it personally? Should I take back my comment because they think it’s none of my business to say I don’t like rap?

Like if I say, “I don’t like football.” And someone responds, “What do you mean you don’t like football? I’m offended. We’re not playing football for you.” And then I ask a question about whether anyone else doesn’t like football, and all the football players get in my face telling me I have no business stating an opinion about football since I am not a football player. Huh?

This is why I ask the question. I think it’s ok to state an opinion or a preference. But it seems that my opinion is seen as a judgment, and some people get outraged that I have this opinion. I guess they take it personally. They are offended.

I totally agree that you don’t offer your opinion gratuitously to someone’s face. But to offer your question as a kind of general thing and to have random people tell me my opinion is unwanted, especially when I wasn’t even talking to them in the first place… it’s not that I mind so much. It lets me get into a brawl with no guilty feelings. But what is going on? Is this part of the PC thing? No bad opinions about anything?

I want to know why people play football. I never would have said that I didn’t like football except that people asked for an example. Maybe I should have said, “Forget it. I shouldn’t have asked.”

iamthemob's avatar

@wundayatta – is it at all possible for you to give an example of the types of statements you’re making or things that you’re saying that people seem to or might be taking offense at?

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I guess if they identify with the look you don’t like they might get offended. If you always see them at work, you may have no idea how they dress outside of work. And, many women are all freaked out with any sort of criticism of women, and think all men suck. What can I say. They are too extreme in my opinion. I have no problem with them disagreeing with your opinion, but some of them get all bent out of shape, angry even, and fail to simply state why they disagree, or try to enlighten you maybe. They get offended even if the criticism has nothing to do directly with them. People get offended too easily. I say it all of the time.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Oh my god, this isn’t about that hair question is it, lol? Get over it.

bkcunningham's avatar

@wundayatta some people just want to argue. If you voice an opinion and someone doesn’t like what you have to say, so be it. That’s their problem. That’s my opinion and I may be wrong.

wundayatta's avatar

@iamthemob ;-)

You know me. I don’t do examples. Period. You know what I mean? It’s like if you were walking down the street and your shoe stuck on some gum and pulled right off. Get it? Like, when an astronaut says “one small step for man,” and you say, while trying to pull your shoe off the sidewalk, “That’s easy for you to say!” Get it? Because I’m tired of trying to explain it any more.

Jeez. Hope I labeled this a social question.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think there is a difference between opinions and judgements. Sometimes our opinions lead to judgements about things/people. A lot of the time, I think it depends on the delivery of the opinion and the way the person hearing it receives it. It could be that in their opinion, your opinion is judging them in some way. That’s not necessarily your fault, it’s just part of the way people receive what is being said to them.

iamthemob's avatar

@wundayatta – I think that the problem could be that you might in certain instances attempt to convince others of the objective validity of what are inherently subjective experiences and views. It can come off not as judgmental but rather evasive when one expresses an opinion that “x” is the right way to do things, but refuses to offer material support for the assertion because the evidence for it is experiential rather than material.

Asserting such positions can often end up in responses like “You just don’t understand” or “I can’t explain it to you…you either get it or you don’t” etc. And at that point, it does seem to move from evasive to judgmental.

gailcalled's avatar

My therapist told me once that offering unwanted advice is an act of hostility. That is one of the new building blocks of my (watch that metaphor) personality scaffolding.

If someone is dressed in a perceived odd manner, that is in the eye of the beholder.

wundayatta's avatar

@iamthemob That’s a good point, although I don’t feel I am trying to convince anyone of objective reality. I’m just stating an opinion. Like ‘I don’t like dogs.’ Or, ‘I don’t like blonds.’—Neither of these preferences are ones I hold, by the way. In fact, I love one particular blond very much—my wife.’

Should I withhold my opinion because someone might be offended? I’m not getting this.

iamthemob's avatar

@wundayatta – Not at all. The only question is what result are you trying to get out of expressing the opinion…

…on a Q&A platform like this, in all honesty, asking a question about an opinion of yours is going to be readily read as asking if others agree with you. And if there is no real articulable reason for the opinion, the potential for a lot of miscommunication abounds.

It may be the case that you indicate reasons for your opinion, but don’t really express them in the end. If the reason you have an opinion is simply “It’s a gut feeling” that’s unassailable for things like “I find x attractive/interesting/beautiful/stupid.”

VS's avatar

@john65pennington: I would beg to differ in your assessment that on any given day you would discover the difference in opinions and judgments in a courtroom. The Supreme Court in my state, and I’m sure in every other state, on Monday mornings, issue “opinions” which are, in fact, the judgment of the Court. While the attorneys and prosecutors may have a differing opinion about how the case should be decided, it is only the opinion of the judge or justices and how they interpret the state and US Constitution, that determines the final judgment.
To directly answer your questions @wundayatta I believe that we all hold opinions about things, whether it’s how people dress, their level of intelligence, how they live their lives, the right or wrongness of their choice of mates or dates how they spend their money or even their taste in music or movies. Are we making judgments about them? Of course, we are. If I see someone wearing flipflops with an overcoat and it’s 20 degrees outside, my instant thought is “what the hell were they thinking?” I have to check myself sometimes and remind myself that not everyone has my fashion sense, and not everyone can afford to buy shoes. I try NOT to be judgmental, but that does not stop my conscious mind from making judgments.

Earthgirl's avatar

You may be speaking in general, but if your opinion applies to that person they might not be able to help but take it personally. If they don’t care what you think of them, they probably won’t get upset. But if they do, they might feel hurt and get defensive and/or angry.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think that in the eyes of the person being judged or about whom the opinion is voiced, there is little difference and the person in the spotlight is probably going to feel hurt or pleased depending upon the thrust of the comment.

They are different, but the results are often the same.

(I wonder if this was brought on because your daughter wants to color her hair)

Ladymia69's avatar

@wundayatta I see what you are saying, and I would tell you that it’s up to you. Maybe women do dress or act a certain way for you, and then maybe they do it for themselves. It depends on the gal. If I had a miniskirt on and you told me you thought it made me looka little plump, I would probably take offense and see it as a judgment, and then try and figure out where I went wrong. Maybe some things are better kept to oneself?

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