Personal Development

Social Judgement and Conditioning: Impact on Individuality

Why do we feel the need to judge people? Does it give us pleasure? Entertainment? A sense of control? Or does it temporarily help us override our insecurities and make us feel better about ourselves? We’ll be looking at “Societal Judgements (Social Judgement), Societal Conditioning, and its impact on individuality” in this very article.

The topic that I aim to discuss in this article is about never-ending societal judgements (Social Judgement), social conditioning, and its impact on individuals’ growth. Although this article focuses on the larger aspect by examining the society as a whole, I began with posing the questions in second-person narrative because it is essential we understand that We are the ones that make up the society and our impact, lifestyle, and values will result in long-lasting benefits or ramifications for the upcoming generations. We need to understand that we are the ones that can make a change to society and change our way of thinking if we don’t want to be further exposed to this toxicity in our lives. 

Throughout generations, our society has normalized partaking in societal judgements (Social Judgement) and the passing of derogatory remarks in the name of ‘being concerned for that individual’ to the extent where many feel that ‘the ability to judge is at part what makes us human’ and engage in it subconsciously at work, home, school or during any social engagement. However, people fail to take a step back, and realize that those who tend to pass judgements and categorize people based on their dressing manner, their education, their linguistic skills, their ability to socialize or even their ability to dream and envision a better future (these are just a few…. the things we tend to judge people for is indefinite) are the ones that are trying to cover up their hidden issues or internal conflicts which they are dealing with at that time. In fact, judging people has become a part of our ‘societal conditioning’ resulting in our unfortunate ability to judge subconsciously, even if we don’t mean to.

Also Read: How Our Mind Contributes to Shaping Our Reality

According to the United Nations ESCWA. societal conditioning is defined as the “sociological process of training individuals in a society to act or respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within a society” (social conditioning, n.d.). While it is true that the presence of social norms does help allow order to provide protection for individuals, it is important to realize that our environment and social norms do tend to significantly shape our personality. As humans, we are social beings programmed to monitor, intake, and correspond to the stimulus, environment, and social interactions throughout our life. Therefore, although we might feel that we have free will and we are partaking in actions that are unique to us, we don’t notice that extent to which our beliefs, values, and thinking has been blindly shaped by our friends, family, the media and other members of society whom we have never met in our lives (Davies, n.d.). 

This sociological process begins at birth and trains us to act and think in a certain manner by employing ‘negative and positive enforcement in society’. Consequently, we then tend to grow up with certain illogical, toxic and unhealthy ideas, concepts and thus, develop toxic behaviours and emotions. These ideologies may include racism, discrimination, toxic masculinity, and the ability to constantly judge hindering others’ growth. In fact, statistics show that social conditioning can further result in many consequences which include an increase in divorce rates, a spike in the incidence of disorders, and increased frequency of mental health problems (“How to understand, 2019).

Although societal conditioning is deeply ingrained within us, we can decondition primarily by realizing the influence of social conditioning on ourselves (Davies, n.d.). Think about whether you have certain perceptions or beliefs that are a result of your society and its norms? Think about any toxic skills that you may have acquired because of your surroundings (these include the ability to judge, be envious of others’ growth, engage in slander and gossip)? Moreover, question your beliefs and the chain of logical reasons that allow you to reach that conclusion.

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I don’t mean to generalize but I myself have noticed that a majority of the people across our societies tend to judge, pass comments and at times, unknowingly lower others’ self-esteem if they are growing, doing something out of the ordinary/out-of-the-box or simply partaking in something which that society doesn’t approve of. Although, I understand that culture and sentiments come into play, it is important to realize that these words may seem insignificant but may hinder growth not only for individuals but collectively, for the nation as well. Never-ending social judgement and negative social norms imposed through social conditioning may prevent you from growing and realizing your hidden potential as an individual just because you are too caught up in obeying societal norms and pleasing the society. 

It is high time we understand that everyone will question us and will try to bring us down initially, but once we grow and reach our vision, it’s the same people that will come to us asking us how we did it. We need to understand the power of social conditioning, and learn to decondition ourselves especially from judging others, as then, we will fully focus on what we aim to achieve and grow. 

Also Read: How to Get to Know Someone Fast and Easily

Shekhaa Hameed
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Shekhaa Hameed

An aspiring lawyer and entrepreneur currently pursuing a double major in International Relations and Economics. She has been a guest speaker for the World Tolerance Summit and aims to bring a positive change to society.

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