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Impartiality vs. Partial: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 23, 2024
Impartiality refers to fairness and lack of bias, while partial means showing favoritism or bias towards a particular side or person.

Key Differences

Impartiality is the quality of being unbiased and fair, ensuring that decisions and judgments are made without favoritism or prejudice. It is a crucial principle in fields like journalism, law, and mediation, where objective evaluation and equal treatment are essential. In contrast, being partial means having a preference or bias towards one side or individual, which can lead to unfair treatment and skewed decisions. Partiality can undermine trust and credibility in any situation requiring fairness.
Impartiality requires one to consider all relevant facts and perspectives equally before making a decision. It involves actively avoiding personal biases and ensuring that one's judgments are based solely on objective criteria. On the other hand, partiality involves allowing personal preferences or affiliations to influence decisions, often leading to favoritism or unfair advantages for certain parties.
In legal contexts, impartiality is fundamental for judges and jurors, who must remain neutral to ensure justice is served. A partial judge or juror could unjustly influence the outcome of a trial. In contrast, partiality in such settings can result in unfair verdicts and miscarriages of justice, eroding public trust in the legal system.
Journalists are also expected to maintain impartiality, reporting news and events without bias to provide the public with accurate and balanced information. When journalists are partial, their reporting can become skewed, promoting a particular agenda or viewpoint and misinforming the audience.
In everyday scenarios, impartiality can help in resolving conflicts fairly, as it involves considering all sides and interests equally. Conversely, partiality can exacerbate conflicts, as it shows favoritism and may lead to resentment and a sense of injustice among those who are treated unfairly.
While impartiality promotes fairness and equality, partiality tends to favor specific interests or individuals, often at the expense of others. Striving for impartiality helps maintain integrity and trust in various professional and personal interactions.

Comparison Chart


Fairness, lack of bias
Showing favoritism or bias


Ensuring equal treatment
Favoring one side or individual

Importance in Law

Essential for justice
Can lead to unfair verdicts

Role in Journalism

Provides balanced information
Skews reporting, promotes agendas

Conflict Resolution

Helps resolve conflicts fairly
Can exacerbate conflicts

Impartiality and Partial Definitions


Fairness in decision-making without personal bias.
Impartiality is vital in mediation to reach a balanced resolution.


Showing favoritism or bias towards one side.
The referee was accused of being partial to the home team.


Objectivity in evaluating facts and perspectives.
The committee maintained impartiality by considering all evidence equally.


Influenced by personal biases or interests.
His partial views were evident in his skewed analysis.


The quality of being fair and unbiased.
The judge's impartiality ensured a fair trial for both parties.


Of, relating to, being, or affecting only a part; not total; incomplete
The plan calls for partial deployment of missiles. The police have only a partial description of the suspect.


Unbiased consideration of all relevant information.
Impartiality in research ensures credible and trustworthy results.


Favoring one person or side over another or others; biased or prejudiced
A decision that was partial to the plaintiff.


The practice of treating all sides equally without favoritism.
Journalistic impartiality is crucial for providing accurate news.


Having a particular liking or fondness for something or someone
Partial to spicy food.


Not partial or biased; unprejudiced.


(Mathematics) Of or being operations or sequences of operations, such as differentiation and integration, when applied to only one of several variables at a time.


The quality of being impartial; fairness.


(Music) See harmonic.


The quality of being impartial; freedom from bias or favoritism; disinterestedness; equitableness; fairness; as, impartiality of judgment, of treatment, etc.
Impartiality strips the mind of prejudice and passion.


(Mathematics) A partial derivative.


An inclination to weigh both views or opinions equally


Existing as a part or portion; incomplete
So far, I have only pieced together a partial account of the incident.


(computer science) describing a property that holds only when an algorithm terminates
It's easy to prove partial correctness, but it's not obvious that it is also totally correct.


Biased in favor of a person, side, or point of view, especially when dealing with a competition or dispute
The referee is blatantly partial!
God is not partial; he does not play favorites.


(followed by the preposition to) having a predilection for something


(mathematics) of or relating to a partial derivative or partial differential


(botany) subordinate


(mathematics) A partial derivative: a derivative with respect to one independent variable of a function in multiple variables while holding the other variables constant.


(music) Any of the sine waves which make up a complex tone; often an overtone or harmonic of the fundamental.


(dentistry) dentures that replace only some of the natural teeth


(forensics) An incomplete fingerprint


A fragment of a template containing markup.


(bodybuilding) The condition of not exhausting the amplitude during the repetition of an exercise.


To take the partial regression coefficient.


Of, pertaining to, or affecting, a part only; not general or universal; not total or entire; as, a partial eclipse of the moon.


Inclined to favor one party in a cause, or one side of a question, more then the other; biased; not indifferent; as, a judge should not be partial.
Ye have been partial in the law.


Having a predilection for; inclined to favor unreasonably; foolishly fond.
Not partial to an ostentatious display.


Pertaining to a subordinate portion; as, a compound umbel is made up of a several partial umbels; a leaflet is often supported by a partial petiole.


The derivative of a function of two or more variables with respect to a single variable while the other variables are considered to be constant


A harmonic with a frequency that is a multiple of the fundamental frequency


Being or affecting only a part; not total;
A partial description of the suspect
Partial collapse
A partial eclipse
A partial monopoly
Partial immunity


Showing favoritism


(followed by `of' or `to') having a strong preference or liking for;
Fond of chocolate
Partial to horror movies


Having a preference for a particular person or group.
Her partial attitude affected her ability to make fair decisions.


Providing unequal treatment based on personal preference.
A partial teacher can undermine students' confidence and fairness.


Unfairly favoring one party over another.
The decision was seen as partial, benefiting one company over its competitors.


What does it mean to be partial?

Being partial means showing favoritism or bias towards one side or person.

What is impartiality?

Impartiality is the quality of being fair and unbiased.

Can impartiality help in conflict resolution?

Yes, impartiality helps resolve conflicts fairly by considering all sides equally.

Why is impartiality important in law?

Impartiality ensures fair trials and just outcomes in the legal system.

What are the consequences of being partial in decision-making?

Partial decision-making can result in unfair outcomes and loss of trust.

How does partiality affect friendships?

Partiality can strain friendships by causing feelings of favoritism and exclusion.

How does partiality affect journalism?

Partiality in journalism can skew reporting and promote specific agendas, leading to misinformation.

What are examples of impartiality in daily life?

Examples include fair decision-making in disputes and unbiased opinions in discussions.

Why is impartiality crucial in research?

Impartiality ensures credible, reliable, and unbiased research results.

How does partiality impact workplace dynamics?

Partiality can create an unfair work environment, leading to resentment and decreased morale.

Can partiality ever be justified?

Partiality is generally seen as unfair, but some argue it can be justified in cases of ethical dilemmas or personal loyalty.

Is it possible to be completely impartial?

Striving for complete impartiality is challenging, but it's essential to minimize bias as much as possible.

How can one practice impartiality?

By objectively evaluating facts, avoiding personal biases, and considering all perspectives equally.

What is the difference between impartiality and neutrality?

Impartiality involves fairness and unbiased judgment, while neutrality means not taking sides.

What are the signs of a partial judge?

A partial judge may consistently rule in favor of one party or show bias in courtroom behavior.

What role does impartiality play in education?

Impartiality in education ensures fair treatment and equal opportunities for all students.

How can organizations promote impartiality?

By implementing policies that encourage fairness, transparency, and unbiased decision-making.

How can one identify bias in themselves?

By reflecting on their decisions and opinions, seeking feedback, and considering different perspectives.

Why is impartiality valued in journalism?

It provides the public with accurate, balanced information free from bias.

Can partiality lead to ethical issues?

Yes, partiality can create ethical dilemmas and compromise integrity in various contexts.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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