Defining what this mindset is, how it affects people’s lives, and what to do about it
People-Appraisal, like other mindsets, consists of a belief related to a set of emotions and behaviors. It involves a mental process believed to determine the goodness and worthiness/worthwhileness of people. The People-Appraisal process and its consequences are examined in this article.
People-Appraisal has been developed, cultivated and promoted by cultures around the world for ages. It’s taught to children by their parents and teachers. It’s a primary lesson of certain religions. It’s incorporated into government laws and societal values. And along with other deeply ingrained ways of thinking, People-Appraisal can also be fostered by the media and cult leaders as a form of brainwashing.
In this article I explore three key aspects of People-Appraisal:
- Its definition - What the People-Appraisal process is and what it does
- Its effects - How it affects the people being appraised (judged, evaluated) and those who appraise them
- Its validity - Whether it’s a valid way to appraise people.
Stated simply, People-Appraisal is a process that appraises (judges, measures, evaluates) how good and worthy/worthwhile a person is, one’s “true nature.”
Following is an explanation…
The People-Appraisal process is used to appraise people’s overall goodness and worthiness/worthwhileness by evaluating what they do and what they have. This judgmental process occurs when someone believes a person did something, or has something, that’s particularly:
- Good or bad. Related words include virtuous or immoral, right or wrong, successful or unsuccessful, attractive or unattractive, appropriate or inappropriate, etc.
- Worthy or worthless/unworthy. Related words include valuable or valueless, useful or useless, superior or inferior, meaningful or meaningless, productive or unproductive, etc.
Here’s an example of the two-step in the People-Appraisal process:
Step 1. Evaluate (Judge, Measure) what People Do or Have
The People-Appraisal process begins by evaluating what people do or what they have.
Evaluating what people do focuses on judging/measuring one or more key aspects (attributes, qualities, characteristics) of their behaviors (actions). Evaluating what they have focuses on doing the same for key aspects of their possessions and financial wealth, as well as other things they have such as one’s physical appearance, social relationships, job/profession, education, gender, race, ethnicity, age, etc. A person can evaluate oneself in addition to others.
Step 2. Select Judgmental Words
The next step involves selecting judgmental words that define the things being evaluated in step 1, and then using the same or similar words to define what the person is, one’s “true nature.”
The following examples explain this People-Appraisal process.
Suppose a person, let’s call him Fred, did something you believed was a bad thing. It doesn’t matter what good things Fred has done in the past, nor does it matter whether other people might not believe his actions were bad. The People-Appraisal process would then give you the absolute right to appraise Fred negatively and judge him a bad person (or select other any other judgmental words of your choice).
If Fred later did something you believed was good, you could then change your appraisal and call him a good person (or select other words).
Likewise, let’s say Fred did something you believed was a waste of time, or he failed at some task, or he doesn’t have much money, or he comes from a country whose citizens you believed are lazy. The People-Appraisal process would then give you the right to judge him an unworthy/worthless person (or select other words).
If, however, Fred achieved things you believe are worthy—such as making a lot of money or building something you think is ingenious — you could just change your appraisal and judge him a worthy/worthwhile person (or select other words).
So, People-Appraisal is truly a simple process with very few rules. All you need are judgmental beliefs and the ability to select judgmental words with which to judge people.
With these examples in mind, lets define the People-Appraisal process more precisely.
Precise Description of the People-Appraisal Process
Here’s a more precise description of the People-Appraisal compared than the simple definition above:
People-Appraisal is a process based on the belief that the intrinsic goodness and worthiness/worthwhileness of a person’s “true nature” can be determined by evaluating what the person does and has.
Understanding this description of People-Appraisal is complicated because it contains a combination of interrelated abstract concepts (thoughts, ideas, notions) that are not real physical things. These concepts relate to the belief that people have a “true nature” whose “intrinsic goodness and worthiness/worthwhileness” can be appraised (evaluated, judged, measured).
The following more clearly defines the three abstract concepts:
- True nature is the essence of what someone is believed to be.
- Goodness and worthiness/worthwhileness are subjective (personal, nonobjective, one-sided) measures of certain attributes (qualities, characteristics) about things (or people) being evaluated.
- Intrinsic goodness and worthiness/worthwhileness of people’s true nature combines these abstract concepts. Intrinsic refers to the inherent/instinctive/innate aspects of people that are natural, inborn, deep-rooted, hard-wired from birth. These aspects are characteristics (qualities) fundamental to a person’s existence and they provide the labels we use to define the most important or essential part of what a person is. More about this later.
Having defined the People-Appraisal process, we can now explore its effects on people.
Effects of People-Appraisals
A person can be appraised favorably or unfavorably, with differing effects of each.
Favorable Appraisal Effects
People who receive favorable appraisals are labeled good, worthy, worthwhile, successful, competent, powerful, valuable, superior, important, precious, noble, moral, virtuous, righteous, pure, respectable, successful, winners, stars, saints, heroes, gems, respectable citizens, etc.
They tend to develop a positive opinion of themselves. They’re likely to have a more positive self-image, higher self-esteem and more pleasant feelings about themselves because of how others appraise them. This can be a positive thing, but such compliments and flattery can also be problematic. For example, favorable People Appraisals can:
- Create a “big ego” that makes people emotionally vulnerable to having strong negative feelings about themselves when they receive unfavorable appraisals. To avoid this emotional pain, a person may pressure oneself to be perfect, which causes its own negative stress.
- Make people believe that they’re superior to others and act egotistically, or they may think they’re always right and refuse to compromise or consider other people’s opinions. Both these situations harm relationships, cause conflicts and increase negative stress.
Much better is unconditional self-acceptance (discussed below) and humility by people who receive favorable appraisals.
Unfavorable Appraisal Effects
People who receive negative appraisals, on the other hand, are believed to be worthless/unworthy, useless, unlovable, good-for-nothing, defective, inferior, weak or wicked, degenerate, rotten, detestable. They can be called bad people, failures, losers, no-bodies, louses, flunkies, morons, head cases, maniacs, lunatics, crackpots, nutcases, wackos, freaks, deviants, dingbats, flakes, oddities, screwballs, sickos, psychos, fools, derelicts, bums, jerks, rejects, bastards, bitches, skunks, rats, swine, animals, sinners, shits, evildoers, devils, scums of the earth, dregs of society, ugly as sin, undesirable, undeserving, and a host of other negative terms (including one’s in the graphic above). They are blamed, shamed, faulted, criticized, condemned, denounced, disparaged, denigrated, maligned, etc.
These people tend to develop a negative opinion about whom and what they are. They are likely to have a poor self-image, low self-esteem and unpleasant feelings about themselves. Their self-perceptions and feelings include self-loathing/self-hatred, self-contempt, self-denigration, self-disgust, insecurity, lack of confidence, self-doubt, feeling undeserving.
Effects on the people doing the judging
A person may feel superior when they judge others poorly, which makes them feel better about themselves at the expense of others. This is a common situation for a person with low self-esteem, such as people with a narcissistic personality disorder.
Unconditional Self-Acceptance is based two truths that shield people from the effects of unfavorable appraisals. The first truth is that everyone is an imperfect human being. We each have strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, positives and negatives, etc. That’s just how it is and must be. The second truth is that People-Appraisal is nonsense; it’s an irrational belief and invalid process that does more harm than good.
A key benefit of rejecting People-Appraisal while embracing Unconditional Self-Acceptance is that it frees you to work on making positive changes in your life with fear of failure, rejection and embarrassment. It enables you to use constructive criticisms as helpful feedback to improve problem-management strategies and cope methods. It brings greater peace of mind knowing that there’s nothing anyone can do or say that makes you less of a person because you’ll always be an unrateable, fallible human being!
It’s clear that People-Appraisal can greatly affect people’s sense of wellbeing, often adversely. One effective way for a person to avoid the emotional pain negative judgements is to understand that People-Appraisal is totally invalid and replace it with Unconditional Self-Acceptance.
The next section provides proof that People-Appraisal is completely irrational (invalid, fallacious, unjustifiable, unreasonable), wrong and harmful.
Proof that People-Appraisal is Invalid
As previously discussed, the People-Appraisal process is based on the belief there’s an intrinsic goodness and worthiness/worthwhileness of people’s true nature. The following questions and their answers explain why this belief is irrational and process is absurd.
Question 1: Is it reasonable to appraise someone’s goodness and worthiness/worthwhileness by judging what the person’s body does and has?
To answer this question, consider these follow-up questions:
Are people who do bad things truly bad people? If so, then do these “bad” people only do bad things? What about good people and the things they do?
- Imagine that a person named Alice did something which Barbara believed was a bad thing to do, so Barbara appraised Alice to be a bad person. It doesn’t matter what Alice did nor why she did it, nor does it matter why Barbara believed it was bad, nor whether anyone else would agree it was bad. Regardless of the reasons, could Barbara’s appraisal of Alice be a reasonable one?
Are people who fail truly failures, and do they always fail? What about successful people and the things they do?
- Carl and David are co-workers who both had important tasks to do. David completed his task quickly and accurately, but Carl failed miserably. David learned about Carl’s poor performance and called him a good-for-nothing failure. Regardless of the reasons, could David’s appraisal of Carl be a reasonable one?
Is a person with an unattractive appearance an ugly person?
- Lisa wasn’t interested in her physical appearance. Her body lacked natural beauty and she didn’t do anything to make her appearance more attractive, but she could have if she wanted to. People who saw her tended to label her an ugly person. Could that appraisals be reasonable?
Are people without financial or material worth actually worthless or unworthy people?
- Paul is a man whose illicit drug use destroyed his life, leaving him poverty-stricken and in despair. People appraised him to be a worthless, useless person. Could that be a reasonable appraisal?
There are an enormous number of situations like these. Can there be any situation in which such appraisals are reasonable?
The answer to all these questions is NO. Here’s why…
People are not what they do or have!
The judgmental labels Alice, Carl, Lisa and Paul were given— she has a true nature of badness, he has a true nature of failure, she has a true nature of ugliness , and he has a true nature of worthlessness —are not appraisals that refer to what a person does or has, instead they refers to the person’s true nature. And that’s the problem!
It’s very different than saying Alice did something bad, Carl did fail at something, Lisa has an unattractive appearance, Paul has little money and a drug problem.
In reality, people ARE only one thing: Fallible (Imperfect) HUMAN BEINGS. That is our essence, our true nature; it’s all we are and ever can be.
The fact is this: The only thing about humans we can perceive (notice with our senses) is our physical bodies, as well as what our bodies do and have. Our bodies and our actions are all fallible (naturally susceptible to weaknesses and error). That means each of us has an imperfect body that does and has things, your body:
- Has interacting internal aspects (functions, characteristics, activities, duties) which are also have imperfections (flaws, defects, shortcomings, deficiencies, inadequacies). These aspects include our emotions (feelings, moods, affects); cognitions (e.g., thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, judgements, knowledge, understandings); emotional thoughts (e.g., desires, hopes, passions, dreams, cravings); physical responses and reflexes (e.g., fight-freeze-flight response, pleasure and pain experiences); physical appearance (attractiveness), etc.
- Has imperfect connections (bonds, links) to the external world (e.g., our interpersonal relationships and material possessions).
- Does things which include imperfect physical doings (e.g., taking action to defend ourselves, form relationships, build stuff, etc.); imperfect mental doings (thinking, studying, imagining, wanting, etc.); imperfect sensing (seeing, hearing, smelling, etc.); imperfect communicating (speaking, listening); and imperfect survival functions (staying healthy, breathing, eating, sleeping, digesting, etc.); and so on.
A Person’s Body, and what it Does and Has, can be apprised, but the person’s True Nature cannot!
If you believe, as some people do, that a person is a living physical object —without a nonphysical formless mind and spirit — then you can People-Appraise one’s body. There are two problems, however: A person’s body changes, and what somebody does and has also changes. You can’t, however, always be there to notice the changes and adjust your appraisals accordingly. Consider the following…
Let’s use Barbara’s appraisal of Alice’s behavior as an example of the kinds of problems with judging someone based on what one does.
Barbara’s appraisal of Alice’s bad behavior resulted in Alice being labeled a “bad person.” That judgmental label implies that Alice is all bad and will continue to do only bad things because that’s what bad people do. That’s not the end of the story, however.
It’s likely that someone labeled a bad person will at some point do things that at least some people would appraise as good things. So, how would Barbara know if Alice ever did something good? She would have to keep Alice under continuous surveillance or risk missing the occurrence of a good behavior. Not realistic at all!
What if, however, Barbara later observed Alice doing a good thing? Would Barbara then appraise Alice as a good person? I suppose so, unless she keeps count of the number of good versus bad things Alice does and maybe she gives Alice a judgmental label based on which count is greater, or maybe she judges Alice on the last thing Barbara sees her do. This way Barbara wouldn’t need to perform continuous surveillance, but it’s a haphazard, back and forth People-Appraisal process that lacks accuracy, consistency and is as meaningless as People-Appraisal itself.
And finally, since People-Appraisal judgements are all subjective — since there is no universal agreement of what are good versus bad things in all circumstances at all times — judging people’s true nature by what they do is not reliable and makes no sense.
While this example focuses on what people do, the same reasoning can be applied to judging people’s true nature based on what they have and their physical appearance.
Question 2: Is it Really Possible to Appraise a Person’s True Nature?
A person’s true nature cannot be appraised because it’s an abstract concept.
Many people believe that one’s physical body has a spiritual aspect which is often called a soul (psyche, spirit, consciousness, life-force, inner being, vital force, innermost self, chi, etc.). In addition to a soul, a nonphysical mind is believed by many to be another aspect of what a person is.
From this perspective, the “whole person” consists of body, mind and spirit of which only a visible, tangible, physical body can be evaluated. People with this belief cannot People-Appraise a person; they can only evaluate a person’s body and what it does and has, without judging the persons true nature (except for being human).
It can be reasonable and helpful to evaluate certain things you or others do and have.
It’s totally unreasonable and unjustifiable, however, to use the People-Appraisal process to evaluate the intrinsic goodness and worth/worthiness of people then use judgmental labels to define their true nature.