I had a hard time trying to word this and I hope I didn't over-think it and make a total mess of it.

I just can't think of a word even close and its driving me crazy. lol I'm interested to hear all opinions and suggestions.

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    It depends what grammatical part of speech you want. E.g. "You can't judge a book by its cover" is a common phrase. Please give a sample sentence with a gap where you want the word(s) to fit. Thanks. – chasly - supports Monica Aug 30 '15 at 15:07
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    I'd call this process applying independent thought or critical thinking. – Dan Bron Aug 30 '15 at 15:30
  • @DanBron - That isn't 'a word' as specified in the title. Let's wait for some context. – chasly - supports Monica Aug 30 '15 at 15:34
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    @chaslyfromUK Very frequently people asking for a word end up being quite satisfied with an idiom or even a short phrase (note in Op's question proper he does saying "trying to word this, which suggests he might be so amenable). I find suggesting such things in the comments often stimulates fruitful discussion, or at least gets things moving. In re: "let's wait": yep, that's why I commented rather than answered. – Dan Bron Aug 30 '15 at 15:36
  • @DanBron Critical thinking: only two words and sounds good. I suggest you use it in an answer. – Centaurus Aug 30 '15 at 15:38

the need to form one's own opinion of someone new rather than blindly accepting the opinion of a third party

see for oneself

Example: "Believe me, she's a manipulative gossip, you're just going to be wasting your time with her." "Maybe so, but I need to see for myself."


I don't think there is a single word, but I can suggest "shaping your own opinion"

"First impressions can be deceiving" especially when a third party tries to influence them by giving you beforehand, a ready-made portrait of what a stranger is like. It's up to you to be clever and patient enough to "shape your own opinion about someone", and it takes time.

Surely you also want to take into account how close you are to whoever is trying to influence you and how much both of you share the same values.

First impressions can be deceiving" means that an impression you hold--positive or negative--may not be accurate until you completely understand the item or situation. It is important to remember this because first impressions can be difficult to overcome.

  • None of those are 'a word' as requested in the title. That's why I asked for more context. – chasly - supports Monica Aug 30 '15 at 15:33
  • @chaslyfromUK Added a sentence explaining that. – Centaurus Aug 30 '15 at 15:35
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    But OP also says... 'I am interested to hear all opinions and suggestions'. – user66974 Aug 30 '15 at 15:36

As a single word, the closest I can think of is to judge meaning:

  • form an opinion or conclusion about: (ODO)

    • it is hard to judge whether such opposition is justified
    • judging from his letters home, Monty was in good spirits

along the idiomatic line, the expression don't take someone or something at face value can be used to convey the concept you are describing:

Take someone or something at face value:

  • to accept someone or something just as it appears; to believe that the way things appear is the way they really are. (AHD)
  • Don't take him or what he says at face value.

skeptic (or sceptic) - a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.

In practice there's a grey area between not believing [some purported "fact"] and believing [that fact] to be untrue. In the religious context that distinction might be expressed using agnostic and atheist. In the more general context I'm slightly inclined to think skeptic and cynic make a similar distinction (if you are in fact right, it's easier to convince a skeptic than a cynic), but that's probably just a personal opinion.

It's all a matter of context, of course. Most right-thinking people today would say climate change / Holocaust skeptic represents a "pejorative" usage (someone who refuses to believe what others accept as true), but I'm sure almost all of these written instances of [So-and-so was] by nature a sceptic are at least "neutrally descriptive", if not actually approbatory.


A doubting Thomas is a skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience—a reference to the Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles, until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.

If you are looking for the "action" rather than the person, critical thinking may be suitable.


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