Like similar crayons in a large crayon box, there's a shade of difference between theory and perspective, though both require critical thinking skills. Knowing the difference between these terms can give your school papers and class discussions greater color.

Demystify Theory

When people advance a theory, they try to provide an explanation for something that is uncertain or unknown. Sound theories are plausible and logical, but this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone will agree with them. The theories of evolution and creation arguably are the best examples, but you'll find many others in daily life. For example, many teachers operate on the theory that all students want to learn; many parents act on the theory that teenagers are likely to push the boundaries of disciplined behavior at some point. Burnishing your skills of observation and analysis will help you form more educated theories. Say, for example, that you're the only one in your social group who knows that the parents of a close friend are divorcing. Your friend's erratic behavior might present a mystery to others, but you might form the logical theory that he is responding to the stress of his domestic situation.

Understand Perspective

The Latin root of “perspective” means to look through. So when people share their perspective, they share their vision of the world. A perspective is a point of view, and it's possible that, like a theory, it might not find universal support. For example, you might expect that someone who suffered a car accident and personal injury while texting would have a different perspective on the practice than a young person who is tempted to text and drive to save time. These two people view texting and driving from different perspectives because of their different experiences.