25 Subjectivity Examples

subjectivity examples explained below

Subjectivity refers to the idea that individuals’ perceptions and interpretations are based on their personal beliefs, biases, emotions, mental heuristics, and unique perspectives.

Subjectivity is the opposite of objectivity, which refers to unbiased and universal facts derived through scientific analysis.

Today, we generally understand that objectivity is extremely hard to achieve. Our everyday thoughts and analyses tend to 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 to an approximation of objectivity.

Subjectivity Examples

  1. Taste in music: The varying tastes in music demonstrates how our perspectives on the same thing can vary significantly. Polarizing genres like country music demonstrate how one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 to become more ‘plump’ as it was seen as a sign of class and affluence!
  4. 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 to encourage people to come up with their own – subjective – perspectives.
  5. Moral and ethical beliefs: Even ethics and morality are contested due to 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 to the conundrum of moral relativism – should we respect that other people have different morals, or try to force our own morals on everyone else?
  6. Favorite color: With children, one of the simplest ways to teach subjectivity is to demonstrate how one person’s favorite color is not necessarily the same as someone else’s!
  7. Sense of humor: What one person finds humorous might be seen as completely offensive to 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).
  8. Emotional responses to events: Therapists need to be aware of subjectivity to come to acknowledge that two people may respond emotionally to an event in completely different ways. This means that each person who sits on the therapy chair needs to be treated as an individual with their own unique sets of needs.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 to be.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Workplace dynamics: Co-workers may have varying opinions on the most effective ways to manage tasks, communicate, and proceed with projects in the workplace. This often leads to differences of opinions about the leadership team’s decisions.
  14. 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 to go their own way and make a statement with what they wear.
  15. 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 to the religious perspectives of their parents.
  16. Parenting styles: The ways people parent can be very divisive. Parents may adopt different approaches to raising their children based on their personal values, childhood experiences, or even their own aptitude at managing children. This has led to a range of subjective opinions on the “best” way to parent.
  17. 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 to lead us to lose track of time and feel like it’s passing faster.
  18. 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 to a need for compromising over the years.
  19. 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 to do with the propaganda they were taught at school.
  20. Personal values: What individuals deem important in their lives, such as family, career, or personal growth, is subjective. It may be influenced by factors like temperament, life experiences, and upbringing.
  21. Views on risk-taking: People’s attitudes towards risk-taking can vary significantly, leading to 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 so on.
  22. Assessment of emotions in others: The ability to understand and interpret others’ emotions can be a subjective process. Personal biases, heuristics, blindspots, empathy levels, and prior experiences can influence this.
  23. 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 to be fair while another person may see it as theft!
  24. Interpretation of dreams: Dreams can hold different meanings for different individuals. If you wake up and tell your dream to 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 to clarify what your perspective is.
  25. Comfort levels in social situations: This is also known as the introvert/extravert divide. Some people love to go out and party with strangers, while others would prefer to be at home 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 to 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 SubjectivityCons of Subjectivity
Allows for a deep understanding of people’s experiences and emotions. In research, for example, qualitative interviews that allow people to share their subjective experiences tend to illuminate insights that a population-wide quantitative survey would overlook.Can lead to biased judgments. Subjectivity is innevitably biased. If we acknowledge that our views are subjective and based on past experiences, we need to 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 to understand and pay attention to the fact that there is a diversity of perspectives in our world. With such knowledge, we might be more inclined to welcome people with differing views into our lines of communication to try to understand what unique insights they can offer to 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 to 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 to 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 to come as close as possible to 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 ObjectivityCons 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 to 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 to come to an objective truth, we will be able to agree on a great deal more shared facts (e.g. social facts). This may lead to less misunderstanding and possibly even more social harmony. The difficulty here is getting people from diverse cultures, religions, academic fields, etc. to agree upon a set 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 set 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 support rational decision-making.Lacks depth of understanding. In academic research, the accepted weakness of research that seeks objectivity is that it fails to 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 to far deeper understandings of patients’ needs.

Conclusion

Being aware of our own subjectivity helps us to question our assumptions and preconceptions. If we know and understand that thoughts tend to be based on subjectivity, we can more conscioulsy strive to empahtize with others.

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 to 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.

Chris
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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 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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