Objective vs. Subjective Thinking and Applications

By: Mack Hayden  | 
Being able to distinguish between objective facts and subjective perceptions will help your written and verbal communication skills. FatCamera / Getty Images

To grasp objective vs. subjective thinking, it's crucial to understand what makes each type of reasoning unique. Subjective information is based on personal opinions or feelings regarding a particular subject matter. In contrast, objective information is factual, data-based and unbiased.


Defining 'Subjective' and 'Objective'

Put simply, an objective statement is a verifiable fact and a subjective observation is an opinion.

The term "subjective" refers to personal preferences and feelings about someone or something. It often shows an individual’s unique perspective, shaped by their personal experiences.


On the other hand, the word "objective" refers to verifiable facts and irrefutable evidence, remaining free from personal biases.

Why We Need Both

Understanding the difference between subjective and objective thinking is essential for clear communication. You'd use objective thinking is situations pertaining to scientific research, journalism and decision-making processes.

In contrast, subjective thinking allows for personal expression and creativity. Without the ability to be subjective, any mode of personal expression would end up feeling robotic and unnecessarily conforming. Subjectivity is the lifeblood of the arts and literature.


Identifying Objective Statements

Objective statements are unbiased, providing a reliable foundation for decision-making and analysis. Examples of objective statements include:

  • The Earth revolves around the Sun.
  • Water boils at 100°C at sea level.
  • World War II ended in 1945.

These examples demonstrate how an objective perspective is rooted in factual data that can be independently verified.


Recognizing Subjective Influences

Subjective information derives from personal beliefs, biases and opinions. An individual's unique vantage point, experiences and emotions shape subjective opinions. For example:

  • I think the new policy is unfair.
  • This is the best restaurant in town.
  • She seems happy today.

These statements reflect personal interpretations and are unique to the individual making them. Subjective views can vary widely between different people, highlighting the role of personal preferences and biases.


When to Use Subjective vs. Objective Statements

Understanding the appropriate time to invoke these types of information ensures balanced communication and better reasoning.

Using Objective Data in Decision-making

In decision-making, objective data is essential for informed choices and developing accurate theories or models. Objective data provides cold hard facts, such as customer churn rate, cost per lead and click-through rate (CTR). These business metrics allow companies to base their strategies on evidence rather than opinions.


The same applies to journalism. When reporting details about a subject, location, event, policies and the like, it’s critical to stick to the facts. Ironclad reporting like this is what makes a difference when informing the public.

Balancing Objective and Subjective Insights

While being objective means is vital for accuracy, subjectivity is what makes creative writing (like a best-selling novel) interesting to read.

Balancing objective and subjective insights is also essential for high-quality data analytics and decision-making. For instance, customer feedback (subjective information) combined with sales data (objective information) can provide a comprehensive understanding of market trends.

Subjectivity refers to personal opinions and feelings, which are important in contexts where personal interpretation adds value. This balance ensures that both factual accuracy and personal perspective contribute to nuanced and well-rounded conclusions.


Effective Communication

By focusing on objective language, individuals can enhance the clarity and reliability of their communications, whether in professional settings or everyday interactions.

Crafting an Objective Statement

When crafting messages, use objective language to ensure clarity and avoid influencing readers with personal biases. Objective messages are based solely on verifiable facts and are free from subjective language. For example:


  • Objective statement: The company’s revenue increased by 20 percent last year.
  • Subjective statement: The company did a fantastic job increasing its revenue.

The objective statement provides a clear, factual report without the influence of personal opinion.

Avoiding Unnecessary Subjective Language

To maintain objectivity, avoid using subjective language when reporting facts. This helps to ensure that the information remains unbiased and reliable.

For example, instead of saying, "The new policy is infuriating," you might say, "Joe said he's frustrated with the new policy." Joe's opinion is subjective — there's no such thing as an objective opinion — but the fact that he said he's frustrated with the policy is objective.

Of course, if you're writing an op-ed, the reverse would be true. You'd still want to draw on empirical data and objective facts, but injecting your personal take on the matter is why people would read what you have to say. Regardless, try to ensure that your audience receives accurate and trustworthy information.


Subjective vs. Objective Perspectives in Everyday Life

When someone expresses a subjective opinion about a movie, it comes from their personal feelings and individual tastes. This subjective perspective can vary widely among different people; a child may love a Disney movie while her uncle finds it boring. An objective statement in this scenario could be: The movie was 96 minutes long.

The movie cannot be "objectively bad" — that's a subjective view — and knowing when certain statements are representing facts vs. opinions is key in preventing the spread of misinformation.


Blending Personal Insights With Factual Integrity

Subjective, objective — is there a right or wrong way to communicate? It's important to remain objective when discussing facts so that everyone in the conversation is working with the same foundation of truth. But that doesn't mean that being subjective means lying; it means there is no right or wrong expression of that feeling or opinion.

Stick to an objective assessment when the resulting statement can be deemed true or false, and make it known that your personal opinion is subjective.