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Let's say I have a list of exam results: we would intuitively view higher positive values as being better. There are instances however, where lower values would be more desirable (eg number of speeding tickets).

What word could I use to describe whether higher or lower is better?

I've come across the word 'polarity' but can't seem to find a corresponding definition.

Edit: Examples

For this dataset of exam results, the polarity is positive [10, 20, 80] For this dataset of speeding tickets the polarity is negative [1,2,10]

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    You need to give an example of the sentence that gives the context in which you will use the word.
    – Greybeard
    May 31, 2023 at 18:03
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    The two situations are known as the 'more-is-better' and the 'less-is-better' situations. See Wikipedia: 'Less-is-better effect: (Not to be confused with less-is-more effect.) [This] effect is a type of preference reversal that occurs when the lesser or smaller alternative of a proposition is preferred when evaluated separately, but not evaluated together. The term was first proposed by Christopher Hsee.' Obviously, the term 'preference' is relevant to cover the two possibilities (other than 'indifference', but it is over-broad. May 31, 2023 at 18:19
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    @Greybeard I've updated the question to include some example sentences
    – Jon
    May 31, 2023 at 18:32
  • You gave the DataSet Case , where Positive & Negative "Weights/Weightage/Weighting" may work for getting the "Overall Score" when the Parameters involved have "Opposing Polarity". Eg [ Credit Score = (0.5 x Bank balance) + (2.1 x Property value) + (-1.5 x loans Out-Standing) + (-0.1 x late Payment history) ] Here Bank Balance & Property value have Positive Polarity & Positive weight , while loans Out-Standing & late Payment history have Negative Polarity & Negative weight.
    – Prem
    May 31, 2023 at 19:20
  • Could you please explain why you think 'higher' and 'lower' are always value ratings? They only serve in that way, when they are used in a context which makes that plain. A higher birth rate can be good in some circumstances and bad in others. Similarly higher or lower rainfall may be beneficial or harmful, depending on the surrounding circumstances.
    – Tuffy
    May 31, 2023 at 22:26

3 Answers 3

1

It's part of the UP/DOWN metaphor family. In this case, the theme is

  • UP Is Good.

And, if

  • UP Is More and
  • More Is Good,
    then
  • UP Is Good, too.

There are a lot of transitive relations in metaphor themes.

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For this dataset of exam results, the polarity is positive [10, 20, 80] For this dataset of speeding tickets the polarity is negative [1,2,10]

I never see anything other than

For this dataset of exam results, more is better [10, 20, 80]. For this dataset of speeding tickets less is better [1,2,10]

More or less

0

I think the word you're looking for is favorability.
For this dataset of exam results, the favorability is positive [10, 20, 80] For this dataset of speeding tickets the favorability is negative [1,2,10]

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