Concept Number: *387
English Master: Subjectivity
Synonyms, Variations & Acronyms: none
In all forms of analysis and estimation there is some Component of personal filtering and opinion, or cultural bias or prejudice. This can even be present in apparently subjective and automated measuring Processes, in the form of selection of the subject to be measured, and evaluation of the data gathered. We therefore do not recognize absolute objectivity as a reality; outside of some Ideal. Not do we recognize absolute subjectivity as a reality, outside perhaps of the theoretical notion of a random number as an answer.
Subjectivity is the degree that the Process is biased by any number of factors related to people and culture. Objectivity is the degree that the Process of analysis or estimation is repeatable, and that it will come up with essentially the same answers irrespective of individuals or cultures doing the Process.
“Subjectivity” is a term usually used in a negative way. For some very important analytical Processes (e.g. electors, Consumer choice, market analysis, Gallup Polls) it is precisely the subjective opinion which is the critical thing to Measure (objectively, of course!). There is no objective Physics-like science about people”s opinions. But there is a science in understanding people”s opinions, by which all political and economic power in the world is derived.
The degree to which the “degree of subjectivity” is interesting for you Depends-On the objectives you have with your analysis.
If it is to determine the learning time needed for a task, then objectivity is most central. But of course subjectively we must decide that this Measure is interesting, decide on the nature of the task and experimental Measurement Process; and finally decide on the nature of people and selection methods for people to be measured doing that task. In short, there is a lot of subjectivity in objective Measurement Processes.
The essential Idea behind any discussion of an analytical Process” objectivity or subjectivity is the worry that too much objectivity may somehow obscure the “absolute truth” (whatever that is).
Rather than simply classifying something as “objective” or “subjective” we should back up our opinion, and communicate it to other people by somehow listing the factors and worries we have, rather than hiding them and leaving the reader to guess at our knowledge or opinion.
Planguage strongly encourages the specification of all factors that will help the reader understand the subjective and objective influences which led to a specification.
This Concept entered by Diane O'Brien.