Should We Judge the Character of Others?

By | August 25, 2022

[August 25, 2022]  By the time General Douglas MacArthur commanded the occupation troops in Japan after World War II, it was nearly unanimous that his character was deeply flawed.  After Communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, MacArthur – who was put in charge of all UN troops – devised a brilliant plan to cut off the Communists with the Inchon Landing (one of the most famous in military history).  Yet his arrogant belief in his own superior intelligence misled him just a few months later to send UN forces north, where they blundered into the largest ambush of an army in history.

A social skill that is undeniably the most valuable and, therefore, the most desirable is being able to judge another person’s character accurately.  Why do we judge the character of others?  Our ability to judge determines whether we are successful in life or not.  We are trying to determine if they are honest, reliable, competent, kind, modest, etc.  Leaders are particularly good at discriminating the good from the bad; otherwise, they will fail.  When senior leaders fail, the failure can be spectacular, as in the case of General MacArthur.

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” – Malcolm S. Forbes1

Here are some indicators that a person has character flaws.2 There are many more than listed here, of course, but these are a good start and not surprising:

  1. Obsessive
  2. Sense of entitlement
  3. Arrogant
  4. Impatient
  5. Deny blame
  6. Belittle others
  7. Prone to anger

Eventually, General MacArthur became so obsessed with the illusion that Communists and politicians in Washington D.C. were out to get him that he publicly denounced the U.S. President and much of the rest of the U.S. government.  That got him relieved of duty, something Harry Truman was hesitant to do despite all along knowing the flaws of MacArthur.

Yes, we should judge the character of others.  Besides being at the core of survival, it is necessary to make us better than we think we can be.


  1. Apparently, there has been considerable discussion over who first said this or something similar. A good discussion is here at Quote Investigator:
  2. Note that there are some clear parallels to the “7 deadly sins” of Christian ethics.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Should We Judge the Character of Others?

  1. American Girl

    To answer directly, Gen. Satterfield’s question whether we should judge others, the answer is obviously “yes.” But we also need the right framework, experience, and understanding to interpret it correctly. Otherwise we are going down the wrong road. I love this great leadership blog.

  2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Be humble, my friends, be humble. That is how to survive those judging you. You haven’t placed yourself to high and mighty. Less distance to fall when you are judged lacking.

  3. osmodsann

    Interesting example using Gen. MacArthur. He was, indeed, a great general in the army. But he was a man and prone to failure. That is why we must always remain humble (an admission that we do not know all the relevant things we must know.)

  4. Autistic Techie

    Hey guys and gals! Don’t forget to purchase Gen. Satterfield’s book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq.” It came out almost a year ago. Best book I’ve read in a long time. And, “no” he doesn’t give me a commission on sales. I’m just a huge fan.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Hi Autistic Techie. You got that right. I bought two books and gave one to my best friend who spend 3 years in the Navy. He loved the book too. ✔

  5. Tracey Brockman

    Today, our culture frowns upon ‘judging’ others. I say this is how we live our lives best. You want a compatible spouse? Judge them first.

    1. Wild Bill

      Right. And, is there bias – a massive bias? Well hell yes. That is how you can pick the best spouse, best friend, best insurance company for yourself, etc. We must judge, else we will not live long enough to matter.

  6. Emma Archambeau

    “Yes, we should judge the character of others. Besides being at the core of survival, it is necessary to make us better than we think we can be.” — Gen. Satterfield. This is at the heart of being able to accurately judge others. It’s not a bias, its a necessary skill that most of us have but some do not. Those who do not, are and will forever be victims.

      1. Big Al

        Right, but women are more likely to accurately judge the character of men and other women because that is hard wired into their brains. Men are not. Simple biology. but men are more able to defend themselves if they misjudge.


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