Difference Between Cynicism and Scepticism

Scepticism and cynicism are comparable ideas pertaining to a person’s attitudes. Although many believe these two concepts are interchangeable, there is a significant distinction between them.


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Scepticism entails questioning and disputing commonly held beliefs and facts. Cynicism is the belief that people are motivated solely by self-interest. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Cynicism is a distrustful or pessimistic attitude toward human nature and motives, whereas skepticism is a questioning or doubting approach to claims or beliefs.
  2. Cynics tend to dismiss the sincerity or goodness of others, while skeptics focus on the evidence and logical reasoning behind beliefs.
  3. Skepticism can promote critical thinking and open-mindedness, while cynicism may lead to negativity and disengagement.

Cynicism vs Skepticism 

Cynicism refers to a general distrust or negativity towards people, institutions, or society. Scepticism is a method of investigating people to determine their truthfulness or reliability. Cynicism assumes the worst in people and situations, while scepticism means objectively evaluating.

Cynicism vs Skepticism

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Cynicism is a pessimistic or dismissive attitude or way of looking at things.

Although many people confuse cynicism with scepticism, there is a significant distinction between the two attitudes; scepticism relates to not believing anything without clear evidence, whereas cynicism refers to not believing in or trusting people in general. 

Scepticism is a general attitude regarding claims of truth, especially when the shares are unsubstantiated. Sceptics frequently dismiss practically any assertion that does not have solid evidence to back it up.

Sceptics never accept opinions or facts without first questioning or doubting them. They do not believe even the most widely recognized beliefs and opinions without more investigation

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Cynicism It is an attitude of questioning existing concepts due to insufficient evidence or facts supporting them. 
Meaning It is an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest. Sceptics can be convinced by presenting evidence. 
Phenomenon Negative phenomenon Positive phenomenon 
Mentality Closed-minded Open-minded 
Negative Factors It focuses on the negative factors. It challenges the negative factors. 
Effect of Evidence Cynics cannot be convinced by presenting evidence. Skeptics can be convinced by presenting evidence. 

What is Cynicism? 

Cynics (those who consistently practice or display cynicism) believe that people are inherently dishonest and selfish. As a result, cynics look down on others and don’t trust them. 

They are firmly entrenched in their negative ideas and cannot be persuaded by evidence or valid arguments. Sceptics are open-minded, whilst cynics are the polar opposite — closed-minded. 

Scepticism of persons and organizations claiming to be unselfish, generous, and virtuous is called cynicism. 

Cynicism has come to mean “doubting something will happen,” which can be somewhat sceptical in some circumstances but not always.

A pervasive scepticism of the motivations of others defines cynicism. Cynicism is often confused with suspicion, but it is comparatively more negative.  

In Merriam-Webster, cynicism is the belief that humans are greedy and dishonest. This means that a cynic is a person who will look at everything with mockery and only look at the negative side of a situation. 

They tend to be hostile to new ideas and distrustful of people. Unlike sceptics, they can’t be convinced by evidence or facts because they have already made up their stubborn views. They are closed-minded people. 

Cynics usually lack faith or hope in people motivated by desire, ambitions, aspirations, consumerism, etc. This is because a cynic perceives these things as vain, unattainable, or even useless. 

What is Skepticism? 

Scepticism (also scepticism) is derived from the Greek sceptics, which means to inquire or look around. Scepticism is defined as a person’s questioning or sceptical attitude. A sceptic is someone who always expresses scepticism. 

Although many people regard scepticism as a flawed concept, it also has a good aspect. Sceptics do not readily believe things. Hence they will always look for concrete facts and proof to accept or reject them. 

While gathering evidence or data, they may introduce a new notion or solution. Scepticism necessitates a certain degree of intelligence.

Scepticism can also be defined as being open to new ideas. Scepticism is an essential component of scientific thought. 

Scepticism, usually spelt scepticism, is the attitude of disputing knowledge claims made in numerous fields in Western philosophy.

Sceptics have questioned the sufficiency or dependability of these statements, asking what principles they are founded on and what they establish. 

They have questioned whether some of these beliefs are, as claimed, indubitable or inevitably actual, and they have asked the ostensibly rational reasons for accepted assumptions. 

Scepticism is a positive phenomenon, even though people commonly think of it as negative because it questions concepts or opinions that are widely accepted. They require specific facts and evidence to trust any idea or claim. 

Sceptics are driven to look for newer, alternate ideas. This results from questioning an existing concept, making people want to learn more about it.

They try to propose a new concept or solution. This also ultimately means that they are open-minded and open to new ideas. 

Main Differences Between Cynicism and Skepticism 

  1. Cynicism is when people believe that others are driven only by self-interest. On the other hand, scepticism is when people question existing concepts due to a lack of evidence.  
  2. Cynicism is a negative phenomenon, while scepticism is a positive phenomenon. 
  3. Cynics tend to be closed-minded people. On the other hand, sceptics are open-minded people. 
  4. Cynicism focuses on the negative factors, while scepticism challenges these negative factors. 
  5. Cynics cannot be convinced by presenting evidence, whereas sceptics can be convinced by presenting evidence. 


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02650487.2019.1596448 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363811121000758 
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