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A criterion (Gr. Κριτήριον, "Court of Justice; case; benchmark") is a feature that is relevant for a distinction , evaluation or decision , for example when choosing between people, objects, properties or topics.

Since distinctions, evaluations and decisions are made in a wide variety of theoretical and practical contexts, criteria are relevant almost everywhere: in the sciences as well as in the areas of politics , economics and justice or in everyday decisions made by people.

Example: apartment size as a criterion

According to Duden , a criterion is a “distinguishing feature as a condition for a fact, a judgment, a decision”. This compact definition is explained below using the example of the size of apartments.

Type and expression of the feature

In general usage, a characteristic can mean both its type (example: the size of the apartment as a characteristic of apartments) and the extent of the characteristic (example: 50 m² for a certain apartment). The distinction between the two meanings corresponds in physics to the distinction between a size (example: mass ) and a certain value (example: 10 grams).

The word criterion has the same double meaning . In the statement "The size of the apartment is an important criterion when looking for an apartment", a characteristic type (the size of the apartment) is named as a criterion . In the statement "For me the criterion that my apartment should be at least 50 m² is important", on the other hand, the specific expression of the feature (at least 50 m²) is the criterion for whether an apartment is interesting for the apartment hunter.

Expression of the feature as a condition

Every apartment has a certain size. It is of no interest that the apartment is of any size (like any other). So that the apartment can be distinguished from other apartments in terms of its size and so that it can be assessed, it must be known what size it is. The expression of the feature (example: 50 m²) is the prerequisite - the condition - for differentiating, evaluating and deciding:

  • The apartment size is a differentiating criterion. Other apartments are smaller, larger or the same size.
  • The apartment size is an evaluation criterion. If, for example, the size and location of the apartment are known, it can be estimated whether the rental price is cheap, reasonable or overpriced.
  • The size of the apartment can be a decision criterion. If a 50 m² apartment is to be rented and the apartment hunter is looking for an apartment of about this size, he can make the decision to view the apartment (if necessary, depending on the examination of other criteria).

Particularly for selection processes and other decisions, it is important whether the specified criteria are met . If the criterion (condition) is that the apartment you are looking for should have an area of ​​at least 50 m², but an apartment offered is smaller, it does not meet the criterion. The interested party will decide against the apartment.

In mathematics and propositional logic , a distinction is made between necessary and sufficient conditions . Criteria can also be distinguished in this way:

  • Someone says: “I'm looking for an apartment with at least 50 m², but of course other criteria have to be right.” For these interested parties, the right apartment size is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for evaluating a particular apartment as suitable.
  • Someone says, “I am urgently looking for an apartment. I now look at every apartment that is offered that is big enough for me. ”This prospect focuses on a single criterion. For him, the right size of the apartment is a sufficient condition to arrange a viewing.

Interaction with other criteria

In addition to its size, an apartment to be rented has numerous other features that are included as criteria in an evaluation and decision-making process: location in the area, features of the surroundings, distance to the workplace (from the perspective of the prospective customer), number of rooms, age of the building, Access to a garden and many more. The apartment seeker must therefore identify the criteria that are particularly relevant to him and weight them . He also has to ask himself to what extent the individual criteria are met. This can be answered quickly with yes / no for some characteristics (e.g. renting a garage space). However, other characteristics have a large number of possible manifestations (e.g. size of the home or distance to the workplace). In such cases, the criterion must be formulated accordingly, for example: "Is the apartment big enough?"

The “offsetting” of numerous criteria on the basis of weightings and the examination of the extent to which the individual criteria are met is very complicated overall and only partially takes place consciously outside of science and technology. For comparison: when testing Italian hard cheeses, Stiftung Warentest defined five main criteria, which in turn were based on individual criteria; the main criteria "sensory assessment" (weighting with 55%), "declaration" (weighting with 15%) and "packaging" (weighting with 5%) each consisted of seven individual criteria. The evaluation of an apartment is a lot more complex. Private individuals cannot cope with them systematically to the same extent as experienced professionals.

Nevertheless, the task of looking for an apartment can be solved. Most offers contain at least one feature that clearly does not meet the requirement of the prospect and can therefore be rejected. The interested party can also proceed in several stages: First, when viewing the offers, they concentrate on one or two main criteria (e.g. size of the apartment and rental price). Only if the assessment is positive here does he consider one or two other features of the objects etc. (see decision tree ).

Types of criteria (selection)

  • After the overriding general function, one speaks of differentiation criteria, evaluation criteria and decision criteria.
  • Definition criteria are necessary for definitions (these are to be counted among the distinguishing criteria).
  • For quality testing quality criteria are used (these are among the evaluation criteria).
  • Selection criteria help to choose between different options (selection criteria are evaluation criteria and at the same time decision criteria).
  • In order to name the use of criteria in specific examinations, one speaks of examination criteria, test criteria or test criteria.
  • Internet search engines search the Internet using search criteria. These are primarily determined by the user. The search criteria include the words that the user enters in the search field and, if necessary, additional specifications such as "only results in German".
  • If an exclusion criterion is met in the decision-making process , one option (or several options are not applicable). Furthermore, exclusion and inclusion criteria are used to define membership in a group. Exclusion criteria for blood donation define who is not allowed to donate blood.

Application of criteria (examples)

  • In the humanities and natural sciences, for example, criteria are used to determine which features should be included in the definition of a term .
  • In the scientific modeling of processes, distinguishing features are required as criteria in order to be able to assess, for example, whether an observation is related to suspected causes or how measurement series are to be designed.
  • Companies choose the most suitable person from among the applicants for a position to be filled according to various selection criteria. These criteria can include school-leaving qualifications , personal qualifications , professional experience and age, but also factors such as self-confident demeanor, appearance and spontaneous sympathy .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: criterion  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Duden online: criterion
  2. Italian hard cheese in the test: This is how we tested, September 25, 2014.