How to Form an Opinion

Most of us enter a number of discussions each day where ideas are floated around, topics are debated, and controversial issues are discussed. To have a solid basis for your opinion on these issues and topics, you should know how to form an opinion on the subject, and here are a few steps which may help you.


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    Choose the subject, or issue you feel the need to have an opinion about. This may be anything from whether to fish live baits or artificial lures, the best basketball team, or which religion (or none) you will follow. Opinions come in many levels of importance.
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    Look at the process of forming an opinion as an internal argument with yourself, a mental debate, so to speak. This means looking at all sides of the issue, pro and con.
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    Learn about the subject. You may be satisfied to read only one article at an online website, or you may research for hours, but until you understand all of the sides of this hypothetical argument, your opinion should not become a conviction.
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    Talk to other people, get their opinions on the subject, and weigh the reasons they feel like they do. Be careful not to get a one sided view. If you want to form an opinion about a topic like college football teams, don't ask just alumni from one school.
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    Listen to discussions, debates, and even arguments. Opinions on topics of social significance generate public debate everywhere you go, from the editorial pages of newspapers, to national television news, and many points in between.
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    Find out what recognized experts and professionals have to say about the subject. The man, or woman on the street does not always have access to all the pertinent information on issues like homeland security, the stock market, or major health issues. The person on the street will usually have an opinion, though, if they are aware of the issue.
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    Talk about the issue or subject with your friends. Friends often share your view about many social, or local issues, and if they have formed a solid opinion, they may have reasons for what they believe which will help you form your own.
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    Learn to throw out sensationalized or motive generated stories on the subject. If you only read the headlines on an issue, especially in a biased media element, you will be led into thinking the way that media element wants you to think. Often, headlines are worded in such a way to grab attention, and only in the fine print will you find any reasoned, substantially accurate information on the topic.
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    Ask yourself if what you hear or read is reasonable, logical, and realistic. If someone says, in their opinion, a certain stock will triple in value in a short time, then you may obviously question their opinion. Often, this "shading" of facts is much more subtle, so educating yourself is the best foundation for forming a coherent view of the topic.
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    Decide what your opinion is on a subject, be willing to state it, defend it, and stand by it, but have an open mind unless you are thoroughly convinced and willing to argue your point of view.
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    Keep your opinion to yourself until you reach the point described above, unless you are asked for it, or choose to reveal it in friendly discussion.


  • It is important to differentiate facts from opinion, specially where the mass media is concerned. The media is not in the habit of presenting pro and con arguments; generally, the "reporter" will influence the presentation of the facts with his own feelings or opinions.
  • Do not let a patently biased source be the sole source of information about the topic you are pondering. Look for facts, not ideas fronted as facts.
  • Information is a perishable commodity. When decisions are being made, or are about to be made, receiving pertinent information in a timely manner is critical.
  • Because the range of opinions run from life or death, to mundane and insignificant, how much time you spend should correspond to the importance of the topic.
  • Even when the topic is of a Historical nature, that is, in the past,revisions may occur post-fact, and having all the information is a necessity.
  • Never let what you want to believe steer your search for information on the topic you are forming your opinion on. Almost every basketball fan in Los Angeles has the opinion the Lakers will be unbeatable next year.


  • Never close your mind on a subject if evidence emerges that contradicts what you believe.
  • Be polite when talking to in-laws and out-laws, you never know who's feelings may be hurt, or how your words and opinion alone can kill relationships.
  • When talking about controversial subjects such as abortion, religion, and politics realize that there are many different paths to the same conclusion. In addition, if you feel strongly, state that you do not agree with the other party and take a break from that topic for a while. Chances are, you can come to an agreement based off of factual evidence (e.g. the Bible, or similar standard of belief). Finally, also be open to involving a third party to the discussion.
  • Some people are less than reasonable in discussing opinions on subjects like abortion, religion, and politics.

Things You'll Need

  • An open mind.
  • Willingness to listen, read, and dig for the truth.
  • Resources for research, the library, the Internet, or publications covering your topic.

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Thinking Skills