“I judge people by their own principles, not by my own.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

We judge people within 1/10 of a second. But what categories do we “rate” them in?

According to personal construct theory we tend to judge others by the same constructs with which we judge ourselves.

For instance, what 3-5 adjectives would you use to describe yourself?

Perhaps you chose health-conscious, easygoing, and intellectually curious. If you see these as the most important aspects of your own personality then you will also tend to judge others by how healthy, laid-back, and curious they are.

However, others are doing the same to you. So you may think of yourself as a great person but others are not rating you in the same categories so they may disagree. For example, if faith is important to your conversation partner then they are almost certainly “rating” you on how religious you are, even though this may not be important to you at all.

When talking with someone, try to find out the personality characteristics she sees as most important in herself. These are likely the areas in which she is judging you as well.

Is it possible to judge others by their constructs rather than our own, as MLK encourages us to do in today’s quote?


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