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Outside of specialized contexts, "tolerance" most commonly refers to social tolerance, i.e. the willingness to tolerate or allow certain kinds of social interactions such as cultural ideas or ways different from one's own. It is characterized by interest in examining previously unfamiliar ideas and a will to find positive attributes in them.

Tolerance has much in common with open-mindedness.



Tolerance is generally seen as a virtue, and this fact is often used to criticize criticism of bad ideas by labeling it as "intolerance", but this is a misuse of the term. Tolerance does not require universal acceptance, but merely an open-minded examination of the merit of each new idea before judging it.