Human behaviour is unique in many ways unlike other living beings.
One of them is "being judgemental"!
I am not sure what behaviour theorists say about this, I would certainly like to share my point of view based on my past experience or call it being judgemental ;-)
Fundamental question; is being judgemental bad?
I don't have an answer. But, I guess most are judgemental at times about people.
One of the most common reasons could be "believing someone's view/opinion" about an individual or a group.
In my early days, I recall my mother saying Indian cinema actors such as Manoj Kumar and Shammi Kapoor as persons with very good character. I formed a "positive" opinion about them. And during the same period, I saw many Indian movies portraying policemen as corrupt and bad people. I formed a "negative" opinion about policemen. And today's media is a classic example to support this view. Don't we form an opinion seeing or listening to media about an individual or a group of individuals?
Stages of becoming judgemental about people
1) Listen to someone's view or think of someone's action or in-action
2) Measure against a scale defined by self (scale of right or wrong or scale of good or bad)
3) Form a view
4) Form an opinion or a strong opinion
5) Become judgemental
Stage 1: Listen to someone's view or think of someone's action or inaction
This is the first step and serves as input to the next stages. This is usually difficult to control. Could be avoided in some cases such as stop reading newspaper, stop watching some media channels or stop spending time with few individuals or group of individual. Doing so could only reduce the input but cannot be eliminated completely.
Stage 2: Measure against a scale defined by self (scale of right or wrong / scale of good or bad)
This is an interesting step and most processing happens here. We could call it a stage where individual's "judgemental" algorithm is built and usually varies with individuals. Individuals over a period of time would have developed a scale for measuring good and bad. I would like to call it "individual's scale of right and wrong". I feel it is completely fine to have such scale as it could be an individual's defense mechanism. The trick here is to be aware that it a "self made scale" and may not represent the entire population.
Stage 3: Form a view
It is results time! Now that the processing is done, its time for an outcome. Forming a point of view. An example; "I feel, he may not be open to take this responsibility". Point of views are temporary and perhaps not stored in the re-callable memory. Usually, it doesn't stop here; often Stage 4 immediately follows.
Stage 4: Form an opinion/strong opinion
The moment a "view" is formed, we tend to form an opinion and store it perhaps in our re-callable memory for future use. An example; "He will not take any responsibilities". It is not often that individuals change their opinion or in other words go back to Stage 2 for reprocessing.
Stage 5: Become judgemental
The final step; become judgemental. Individuals start sharing their judgement about others. Often judgements are shared as their "views". Example, "he is an irresponsible person".
I feel it isin't easy to stop being judgemental. But, we could easily and surely re-look at our scale and re-measure.