What is a single word or short phrase that means the following: the human tendency to make a judgment from a perspective one considers false? Or perhaps to make a judgment with values one does not know one has?

For example, say that one half of the world has blue grass and the other has green. John is from the side with blue, but his culture falsely promotes the idea that the grass is greener on his half of the world and that the other side has yellow grass. One day, John discovers that the grass here is blue. He concludes that green grass does not exist because, as everyone knows, the other side has yellow grass.

I understand that this might be a strange question, but I have noticed the tendency of people to accept certain pieces of information promoted by a particular worldview as beyond dispute, so that even if the person rejects that worldview, he or she still judges various aspects of the world from the rejected perspective.

I am trying to come up with a word to describe that tendency on a psychological level and not a logical level. There are several logical fallacies that could describe this.


The following is to provide an example that will be more easily understandable to everyone. Please do not take it as an attack on any particular worldview...

Jane is reared in a certain religion tradition which teaches that the material world is evil and the immaterial, otherworld is good. When she is 18, Jane rejects this religion and consequentially stops believing in the existence of the 'otherworld', but subconsciously retains its judgments.

Her subconscious thought process is this:

  1. Heaven is good. Earth is bad.
  2. Heaven does not exist.
  3. Earth is bad.

Clearly, she maintained a premise (value judgment) she should not have even though she rejected the 'facts' of her religious tradition. Keep in mind, I see the logical fallacies that could apply but I am looking for a psychological description.

  • 2
    Thinking out loud: "ingrained" or "deep-seated" prejudices would result in this kind of behavior, but these don't necessarily carry the "from rejected judgement" aspect of meaning. "Antiquated" would apply, not to an individual's discarded belief, but to a society's.
    – JeffSahol
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 18:19
  • I like the 'antiquated' because it more closely follows the idea. Commented May 17, 2011 at 13:21
  • 1
    I have a current example from my own life: I was raised in a very religious household with a strong tradition of Bible study and scholarship. So naturally, I'm an atheist. ;) Right now, there are billboards and announcements everywhere saying that Judgment Day will be May 21. My study tells me that this is wrong: the date is unknowable, and their interpretation of end-time events is completely ascriptural... but then I stop myself and laugh, because: I don't believe that scripture is divinely inspired, so why should I care that they've read it wrong?
    – MT_Head
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 6:50
  • @MT that is a pretty good example. Similarly, I have read secular people try to explain the Parting of the Red Sea as the moon influencing tides. In my mind, these people are retaining the judgment that 'the Bible is completely based on a historical account' even though they no longer believe in its ideas. Commented May 18, 2011 at 17:19
  • MT_Head -- consistency is a value in its own right -- not sure your example applies at all. Your reaction can be of two forms; they are wrong according to the same book you both have read, and they are wrong with respect to your current outlook on life. I also (and you might to) add an empathetic reaction to this; you understand where they are coming from, and they got it wrong. Justin, yours doesn't seem related either -- the 'seculars' are treating the book as a collection of stories that might be based on events at the time, as opposed to made up, or based on God's word. No values here. Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 14:21

8 Answers 8


Your question brings to mind the model of organizational culture proposed by Edgar Schein. He defined three levels of organizational culture:

Artifacts <--> Espoused Values <--> Underlying Assumptions

The three levels are interdependent, but the Underlying Assumptions level in particular refers to subconscious beliefs that impact a person's actions. In the scenario you suggested, a person seems to have rejected the surface actions and values of a culture but unknowingly retained its underlying assumptions. I might term that a case of cultural vestiges or vestiges of belief. For a bit of insight into Schein's model, have a peek at one of these links:

  • Yes, this seems highly relevant to what I posted. I will read through the two links though I am unsure if your two bold terms have the connotation for which I am looking. Perhaps in the context of Schein's ideas they will. Commented May 17, 2011 at 14:30
  • I like this break down. According to link1, however, that last level should be 'basic assumptions and values', even though I prefer just 'basic values' or 'underlying values'. There should also be the concept of 'unexamined' values, which would apply across both espoused values and the underlying ones. Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 14:32

How about "prejudice" or "being prejudiced"? You judge everything by your own set of rules and do not even realise that there may be other rule sets.

  • Prejudice implies the person has preconceived notions, but does not necessarily have anything to do with maintaining the value judgments of a rejected system or worldview. I am looking for something a little more specific. Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 17:24

I find this question fascinating, but I think that you're making the assumption that when Jane rejects (in this example) her religion, she should reject all tenets of her faith, regardless of whether they are directly connected or not, but I don't think this is the case.

What I mean to say is, it may be obvious to her that "Heaven does not exist" and that all things related to Heaven are now considered bunk in her mind, but "Earth is bad" is not obviously connected to the rejection of Heaven. She's not rejected Earth, and therefore has no basis to reconsider her concept of how that part of her reality works.

In which case, while she may have rejected her religion, she has never questioned her own epistemology.

Now I think I see what you are driving at with your question, which is checking for some internal logical inconsistency with someone's worldview, and I think there must be a word for this. But I'm not sure that you could really consider it a psychological phenomenon for someone to continue behaving in a way that is consistent with their past behavior, even though specific other behaviors may have changed.

  • I do not think the tenets should be necessarily considered false, but they should no longer accepted as true. What I think is happening in these cases is that Jane accepted Heaven as 'that which is good' in itself, which makes sense in her religious context but when she sees the two ideas as the same idea (abstraction = concrete), her denial of the existence of Heaven meant her denial of the existence of 'that which is good', period. Commented May 18, 2011 at 17:11
  • So kind of like if you asked Jane "Why do you think the Earth is bad?", she would say "Because my holy book says so" even though she has rejected the teachings of her holy book? More like that?
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 17:31
  • No, Jane would list reasons advocated by her former religion. I.e., "Why is the Earth bad?" "Because people are inherently corrupt, there is suffering in the world, nothing is mandating unconditional goodness, etc." Asking 'why' or 'how' to each of her reasons and her reasons' reasons would eventually lead to an "I don't know" or "it's self evident". She doesn't consciously question or realize these values are options because they are so ingrained in her worldview. They persist beyond the rejection of their antecedents. Commented May 18, 2011 at 21:09

You could call it blinkered thinking? From The Free Dictionary:

blink·ered (blngkrd) adj.

Subjective and limited, as in viewpoint or perception:

"The characters have a blinkered view and, misinterpreting what they see, sometimes take totally inexpedient action" (Pauline Kael).

  • This one is somewhat similar to prejudice. It does not have to do with the main idea, which is unconsciously maintaining aspects of the perspective of a rejected worldview. Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 17:28

How about "cognitive dissonance"?


  • Cognitive dissonance is an interesting idea but it is in some ways the opposite of what I mean. In cognitive dissonance, one feels the anxiety of contradictory values; in my example, one is unaware of any contradictory values or knowledge which is why one proceeds as if everything is normal. Commented May 17, 2011 at 14:33

Phrases like "consensus consciousness" might fit, as well as "prejudice".

  • Consensus consciousness implies the person thinks a certain way because others do (which I do not think is relevant; my italicized word may have been misleading). Prejudice implies the person has preconceived notions, but does not necessarily have to do with maintaining the value judgments of a rejected system or worldview. I am looking for something a little more specific. Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 17:26

I like the word "holdover" for this, perhaps even "relic".


I can go two ways with this. The first was explained very well by Kit Z. Fox's answer. I call this the maintaining of unexamined values. It has never occurred to her to examine the 'earth is bad' part of the statement. If she still maintains the value after examination and after rejecting the book that originally taught her this, then there are other 'reasons', including the 'vestiges of belief' that ajk wrote about. Some of which may be being enforced by current but biased observation. Those vestiges would have to be examined one by one.

The other way I'd go is with a value that is dependent on another 'rejected' value -- which might have been implied by the example 'heaven good; earth bad'. Earth is bad because heaven is the goal -- it is where you are, lets say, closer to god, and on earth you are still separated from god. But if you reject 'Heaven' and 'being closer to god', then there is no reason to say earth is bad (there is value 'being closer to god', and thus there is no negative value 'being away from god'). To me, this is also related to an unexamined value; it is just that the value has been abstracted from its underlying construction. Unlike the first paragraph, the value shouldn't be examined independently, but rather rejected as being dependent on a value that no longer exists.

Both of these phenomena are what lead to a cognitive dissonance. While this implies some kind of condition as opposed to the underlying values that cause the condition, I think it is a worthy word to bring up.

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