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Two Types of Criticism


Disciplines > Communication > Communication Articles > Two Types of Criticism

Definition | Discussion | See also



Criticism is pointing out something that someone has done that is less than perfect. It thus involves evaluation that assumes knowledge and expertise on the part of the critic.

Factual criticism

Criticism can be factual, pointing out right and wrong facts.

Your tie is not straight.

No, it is Tuesday, not Monday.

Evaluative criticism

Criticism can also be evaluative, pointing out good and bad. This is trickier, as it assumes the critic's values are similar or superior to those of the criticized person.

Don't look at me like that!

That was a boring performance.

A particular form of evaluative criticism is in judging some type of entertainment, including writing, drama and other performance. Performance and art critics have, over the centuries, elevated criticism itself to an art form.

The play was tedious and the final curtain a blessed relief.

James Wilkins' portrayal of Sir Hubbard was more that of wooden Martian than an erudite aristocrat.


Criticism can be directly given to a person or may be of an absent third party (a popular gossip activity!). Although it is often assumed to be negative, it can also be positive. Delivering criticism that is received positively is a particularly difficult task.

A problem can occur where people adopt a critical stance for their own benefit rather than to help the person criticized. There can be many reasons for this, including avoiding being criticized ('I'm the critic here'), seeking admiration and conducting personal vendettas.

A related danger with criticism is that the critic starts to enjoy the 'superior' position in which they find themselves. They may hence become arrogant and start assuming they are superior in other areas as well and stray out of their allotted area of focus.

Criticism can imply blame, that the person criticized is bad and deserving of punishment, which the criticism itself may well seek to implement through harsh words. A better way is to separate the person from the criticism, which may be focused on the work in question.

It is also easy to forget as a critic that your words can harm another person's life. This can lead to the critic being a very unpopular person. Critics may also compensate for this by being overly kind and, whilst this may make them more liked, they become less effective as critics.

See also

Argument, Listening, Blame


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