• Discuss differences in public opinion based on various demographics. How does age affect our opinions? Gender? Religion? Race? Why do you think these differences in opinion continue to exist?
  • Expert Answers

    An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

    Our opinions on issues largely stem from our own life experiences. Someone who has grown up very wealthy may believe that those who live in poverty are responsible for their own predicaments, even if they inherited the wealth they benefit from. But there are many other demographics that shape our world views and our opinions.

    A person's age may affect our opinion because we have been exposed to different eras of peace or war. Different technological advances, such as the automobile, the plane, the discovery of various vaccines, all affect our opinions. Because we have been exposed to those conditions and we have used our educations (or lack thereof) and family makeup to create what is known as our identities, we may be blinded to other people's ways of life if they come from a much younger or older generation.

    Gender affects our opinions because for thousands (if not millions) of years, men and women have taken on certain roles according to their sex. For a very long period of time, men were seen as the hunters or breadwinners, while women were expected to stay at home and take care of their children, their husbands, and their homes.

    Religion could affect people's opinions in various ways as well. Different religions have different moral codes. Some religions may frown upon public displays of nudity while others shun such displays. So when it comes to voicing an opinion on whether or not women should breastfeed in public, those who object to displays of the human body may wish to convince the government or even private businesses that this sort of thing is not acceptable.

    Race comes into play on many different levels. Native Americans may see things very differently than Caucasians, Hispanics, or people of Asian descent. Each individual is drawing upon cultural norms that have been passed down to them. Slavery was something that affected, and to this day still affects, African Americans. Laws that were passed long ago have been passed down through the generations in ways that may be hard to truly comprehend.

    Each one of us is shaped by our past, whether good or bad. It is only through exposure to others of different genders, races, religions, and ages that we are able to understand more than our own point of view. Thoroughly researching and taking the time to examine the history of each specific group helps us to understand both what they have gone through and where they want to be.

    Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

    We’ll help your grades soar

    Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

    • 30,000+ book summaries
    • 20% study tools discount
    • Ad-free content
    • PDF downloads
    • 300,000+ answers
    • 5-star customer support
    Start your 48-Hour Free Trial