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Terri Apter reveals how everyday judgments impact our relationships and how praise, blame, and shame shape our sense of self.
Do you know that praise is essential to the growth of a healthy brain? That experiences of praise and blame affect how long we live? That the conscious and unconscious judgments we engage in every day began as a crucial survival technique? Do you think people shouldn’t be judgmental? But, how judgmental are you, and how does this impact your relationships? “Keenly perceptive” (The Atlantic) psychologist and writer Terri Apter reveals how everyday judgments impact our relationships, and how praise, blame, and shame shape our sense of self.
Our obsession with praise and blame begins soon after birth. Totally dependent on others, rapidly we learn to value praise, and to fear the consequences of blame. Despite outgrowing an infant’s dependence, we continue to monitor others’ judgments of us, and we ourselves develop what relational psychologist Terri Apter calls a “judgment meter,” which constantly scans people and our interactions with them, and registers a positive or negative opinion.
In Passing Judgment, Apter reveals how interactions between parents and children, within couples, and among friends and colleagues are permeated with praise and blame that range far beyond specific compliments and accusations. Drawing on three decades of research, Apter gives us the tools to learn about our personal needs, goals and values, to manage our biases, to tolerate others’ views, and to make sense of our most powerful, and often confusing, responses to ourselves and to others.
About the Author
Terri Apter is a writer, psychologist, and retired Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge. Her ten books include The Sister Knot, Difficult Mothers, and What Do You Want from Me? She lives in Cambridge, England.
Readers interested in psychological theory will be compelled by this book, as will all readers who just want to be better versions of themselves. — Booklist
Thoughtful discourse on the workings of praise and blame. — Kirkus Reviews
In Passing Judgment, Terri Apter—the go-to person when we want to see into the everyday and understand what we’re doing and why—turns her astute eye to the judgments that permeate our lives. . . . I guarantee you will come away from this book with a strong sense of recognition and also perhaps with the question: What happens if I replace judgment with curiosity?
— Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice and Joining the Resistance
Passing Judgment achieves a remarkable balance of scholarly insight and readable anecdote. Not only does it perform a masterly diagnosis of the many ways in which our endless exchange of praise and blame in everyday life can reinforce or undermine social relationships, but it offers practical insights without ever preaching. It shows how scientific research based on behavioral observation can add real value to common sense.
— Paul Seabright, author of The War of the Sexes
In her latest book, Terri Apter once again helps us to better understand ourselves and others.… She illuminates and explains an often ignored aspect of relationships, that which is informed by the judgments driven by both negative and positive evaluations, even in our smallest interpersonal exchanges. — Liba Taub, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at University of Cambridge
Passing Judgment deserves heaps of praise. Terri Apter has drawn on contemporary neuroscience and the best of social psychology to illuminate how we are captive to judgments of others from our earliest days through our adult years. In lucid prose and with many examples drawn from her research, she offers the opportunity to reflect on our lives and suggests how we might make more responsible judgments of others. Everyone can learn something meaningful from this book.
— Ruthellen Josselson, author of Paths to Fulfillment: Women’s Search for Meaning and Identity