Social Research Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home


Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Idealistic refers to someone who holds apecific ideals, however unrealistic thay may be.

explanatory context

The term idealistic in modern use is essentially a polemical term with several meanings. These meanings have historical links to idealism, which is a philosophical position, but their current meanings owe nothing to contemporary philosophical debate. The confusion arises as the term idealist is used to refer both to someone who is a proponent of idealism and to someone who is idealistic.


The first meaning of idealistic is altruistic or non-selfish. This is usually compared to one meaning of materialistic, that of selfish or grasping.


A second meaning of idealistic is that of seeking after ideals, implying a moral or social conscience. This is again contrasted with self-seeking, indifference or narrow outlook. This second meaning is sometimes regarded negatively as unrealistic.


A third nuance to the term idealistic is that of impractical compared to the practicality of a realistic perspective (note realistic is not the same as realism).

analytical review (2013) suggests:

When you're idealistic, you dream of perfection, whether in yourself or other people. For example, you might have the idealistic goal of bringing an end to childhood poverty in the world.
The adjective idealistic describes someone whose plans or goals of helping others are lofty, grand, and possibly unrealistic. Do you think world peace is within reach? You're idealistic. If your vision of the world is idealistic, you believe all problems can be solved and that all people can reach their full potential. Idealistic comes from the Greek idea, or "ideal prototype.".

associated issues


related areas

See also



Sources, 2013, Idelaistic available at, accessed 23 January 2013, still available 5 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home