Topics

Looking for great conversation topics for your next conversation salon? These thought provoking questions, ranging from serious to silly, are a great place to start. Good topics are generated by good conversation questions. And good conversation questions, just like those that sparked the French Revolution in the conversation salons of Paris, start here!  Use these to jump-start your next Saturday Salon. Check back often for new topics, we’re always adding to the list:

 

Personal/Philosophical

What is Joy? Is it different from Happiness?

Do people know the real you?

What are you willing to give away half of?

How would you handle Fame?

If Risk-Takers and Security-Seekers are opposite ends of the same spectrum, where do you fall?

Where did you go when you were a child to be alone? Did you have a special place?

What inspires you?

Are you a goal setter?

Does physical pain lead to increased compassion for others?

Are you kind? Is it ever necessary to be unkind?

What do you think of or feel about death?

Pet peeves? “I hate people who….” Or “I hate it when…”

What would you “bring back” if you could? (shoulder pads, virginity, train travel…)

When was the last time you changed your mind?

Is it good or bad to be ambitious? If so, about what?

What would you do over again if you could?

What was your favorite or best age?

Are there any issues you are conflicted about?

Describe your ideal day or week. Where do you live? Who are you with? What are you doing?

Urban? Suburban? Rural? Which type of place do you live in now, and is that your ideal environment? If not, why are you there?

 

 Religious/Spiritual

When we die and go to heaven, are we graded on a percentage or a curve?

Is religion necessary for morality?What is holy ground to you? Are there certain places in the world that are holy?

Is there a God, a Goddess, Gods, or no god(s) at all?

Does God continue to grow as we do, and if not, doesn’t He or She get bored?

If there is a God or gods, will He/She or They grade us on a percentage, or a curve?

Did you inherit your spiritual beliefs from your parents?

What was your exposure to/experience with religion growing up?

Have you ever had what you would consider a religious/spiritual experience? Why do you think you experienced it?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Would you classify yourself as religious, spiritual but not religious, agnostic or atheist?

Should the Catholic Church get rid of the celibacy requirement for priests and nuns?

Many religions believe taking vows of silence for varying lengths of time enhances spirituality. How would you do? Would you be able to remain silent for a lifetime, a month,a week or a day? What would you like/not like about it?

If some kind of spiritual practice or belief system is good for your health, as many mental health professionals suggest, are atheists doomed to sickness and unhappiness?

When was the last time a prayer of yours was answered?

What role has prayer played in your life? Do you believe in it?

Two families belong to one church. Each has a little girl. Both children get cancer at about the same time. Over the summer, the minister asks everyone to pray for both families, the families pray and the children themselves pray. By the end of the summer, one of the little girls dies, the other one returns to perfect health.

The following Sunday, both families are in church. The parents of the little girl who survived get up and thank the Lord that their prayers were answered and their child saved. What can the minister say to the other family about prayer?

What is your favorite memory about church? (if you have one) Your least favorite?

What do you know to be true about the meaning of life, why we’re here, where we’re going? Is there a plan?

If you believe in a God, how much does he or she actively pull the strings here on earth, or does he just set the stage and let us act out the play?

Will things be fair “in the end,” or is this it?

If you’ve ever gone through a period of disillusionment and then regained your faith, what brought you back?

Are religious experiences real, or just something or brains have evolved to do to provide us with security and good feelings?

If you could create heaven, what would it be like?

If you believed in reincarnation, what would you like to come back as and why?

If you believed in reincarnation, what do you think one of your past lives might have been? (animal or human)

Do animals have souls? What role do animals play in the world?

If you could create God, what would He/She be like?

Is there such a thing as sin?

If damnation is not being eternal suffering in physical hellfire and brimstone, what is it? Is it a valid concept at all?

What is death? What do you think happens to you when you die?

What is a cult?

Is suicide a sin, a result of mental illness or a legitimate choice?

 

Love/Relationships

(The word “marriage” or “spouse” is used for convenience in most of these questions – the topics could be worded for any romantic, committed relationship.)

Do you and your spouse have “rules” about how each of you interact with the opposite sex? (e.g., no lunch dates or opposite-sex friendships, no being alone in the house…e-mails? facebook friends? Phone conversations?)

How have you healed from the loss of a love? (lost through divorce, death, illness)

Which movie star/rock star/political figure do you have a crush on? What “type” appeals to you? Why?

How much would you give up/sacrifice for love?

Can you have a great marriage without sex? (define sex)

Which is more important, emotional or physical intimacy?

Do spouses have to be each other’s best friend?

Can you have a best friend of the opposite sex when you are in a relationship?

Can you ever go back to having a platonic friendship with someone, once you’ve had sex with them?

Could you ever forgive a partner for having an affair? Is there a difference between a one-night stand and an affair? Would that make a difference in your ability to forgive them?

What is the biggest difference between how men think and how women think?

Were humans meant to be monogamous?

If you could change gender for a day, a week, or a lifetime….would you?

What is the optimal amount of sexual activity to maintain a relationship?

Do you believe love/marriage endures beyond death?

What does the word “love” mean to you?

Why do people cheat?

Can you fall out of love?

Does passion have to fade? How do you keep it alive?

How often do you touch/hug the people you care about?

What would you do if the person you loved went into a deep depression and either could not or would not get help for it?

Under what conditions is divorce justifiable or the best choice?

How long does it take to know you love someone? If the feeling is practically instant, is it any less real?

Ala the movie “Indecent Proposal,” would you and your spouse agree for one of you to have sex with someone one time for a million dollars?

How do you show love for someone?

Can the ability to love be learned, or is it a feeling/emotion over which we have no control?

Do we love someone because the other person is loveable, or because we have the capacity to love?

How much personal space do you need in a relationship?

Is being widowed or divorced harder, or is the loss of a loved one the same, no matter how it happens?

How many times have you been in love?

Have you ever had to end a friendship? If so, how did you do it and would you do it differently today?

What is the difference between infatuation and love? Is there any?

What is the difference between love and infatuation?

Is there any such thing as an unhealthy love? Is it love if it’s unhealthy? If it’s not love, what would you call it?

What is “date rape”?

What advice have you, or would you give your children regarding love, sex, and marriage? At what age would you talk with them about these topics?

Is it possible for an emotionally healthy person to be happily married to a person who isn’t?

 

Family

What is the one thing you wish you had done better as a parent (or would emphasize if you had children)?

Is your family happy? Is that the goal?

What three words best describe your parenting style? Or, if you do not have children, what three words best describe your parents’ style(s)?

At what age should you teach your children about the facts of life?

What is the best way to teach children about sex?

What would you do if your teenage daughter became pregnant or your teenage son got someone pregnant?

Should parents be notified (and if so, by the doctor or the school) if their child goes to a doctor for birth control, abortion, or any other reason?

If a couple has trouble in their marriage, what should the role of in-laws and friends be? How do you set those boundaries?

What are your thoughts about caring for parents if and when they cannot live independently?

Should the legal drinking age be lowered? If so, to what age?

What have you taught your children (or how were you taught) about alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs? How did you teach it?

How often do you see your extended family and why?

How would you define “family”?

Do you think it is important for biological family members to maintain a relationship with each other?

It’s been said that every family is dysfunctional, just not in the same way. Do you feel your family growing up was dysfunctional, and if so, are you doing (will you do) anything differently in your family?

What percentage of marriages is truly healthy and loving?

What do you think of arranged marriages?

What do you owe your parents? (What do they owe you?)

What do you owe your children? (What do they owe you?)

What do you owe your brothers/sisters? (What do they owe you?)

How big an apartment/house do you need for a family of four to live happily together?

What are your thoughts about living with relatives? Always a bad idea, or could you see it being a positive, given the right circumstances?

Who would take care of you if you became sick?

What unique gifts do you bring to your family?

Do you think birth-order in families determines any part of our personalities?

What “role” did you play in your family growing up? Peacemaker? Comic? Fun One? Problem Child? What role do you play now?

 

Political/Social

Is not voting a political statement or apathy?

Do you think there will ever be world peace? Why or why not?

Martin Luther King, JFK, Clinton, and many other political leaders were not faithful to their wives. Two questions: Why do you think that is? And should it matter when it comes to voting for them to hold political office?

We give lip service to wanting presidential candidates with high moral values and integrity, but do we really want a “straight arrow” to lead our country? Don’t we tend to vote for candidates with some street smarts? Can a straight arrow be an effective leader in the down-and-dirty world of national politics?

What social services should government pay for? (Social Security, health care, subsidized education or agriculture..?)

How would you change taxation in the United States? Flat tax?

Is democracy the ideal form of government?

Is America a democracy?

What individual freedoms have been lost since 9/11? Are you concerned, or do you feel we are protected by the built-in safeguards of our form of government? (balance of power, constitution…)

Do we have a free press?

Where do you get your news? How much do you trust it?

Is technology worth the trouble?

If you have lived in or visited other countries, how do they compare with America?

How long do you think the United States of America will exist?

In the race to be the next superpower, who will win? China? (Or will it be an alliance of nations?)

Should the United States repay the Native Americans for the land they took? If so, how much?

What do you think the cutoff date should be (if any) for people/governments to be held accountable for what they took unjustly from someone else? (land from indigenous peoples, paintings stolen during war, museums looted during war)

If you found out that your great-grandfather, Mr. Adams, had swindled a Mr. Peabody out of his land, and your family’s fortunes were built on that land, would you feel obligated to give it back to Mr. Peabody’s descendants? If so, would you just give them the land, or all of the money earned from it as well? What if Mr. Adams was your father?

Do you vote? Why or why not?

What do you think of the electoral college? Should it be abolished? If so, how should voting take place?

What do you think about political parties? What about having a third or fourth political party?

What is the role of government?

Do you think you have any power at all when it comes to decisions at the national or state level that affect our lives? If not, does that bother you?

Do you think that Russia’s historical political and military behavior has been one of defense or offense?

Israel and Palestine: thoughts?

The Jewish people: Religion/Culture and Politics. If you are not Jewish, what do you know about Judaism and what has been your experience with Jewish people? Any preconceived ideas? If you are Jewish, what has been your experience being Jewish in America? Was your family strictly observant, or more identified only culturally with their heritage?

Should the countries that have nuclear power have the right to tell other countries they can’t have it?

Do you make a connection between violence and religion? If so, do you think some religions are more violent than others? If so, which and why? How do you view your own religion, if you are religious?

What has your experience been with race and /or ethnicity?

How do you refer to yourself when asked what race or ethnicity you are?

Is race a valid category? How do you use that term?

Who has a right, if anyone, to the land they live on?

Do you think there will ever be a nuclear war? If so, would we survive it?

Since 9/11, has your personal sense of safety or level of stress changed? Are you more fearful than you used to be?

Since 9/11, do you take more chances, figuring life is short and unpredictable anyway?

Do you think governments can provide its citizens with security?

Do you ever write letters to the editor or post on political blogs? If so, what issues do you write about?

Does a belief in religion affect a person’s concern about global warming? If so, how?

Does a person’s religious beliefs affect their concern over personal or social injustices? (Do we feel less of a need to right wrongs or make corrections if we feel God will even the score after we die?)

What do you think our national immigration policy should be? How should nations decide who gets in and who doesn’t?

Do you consider yourself a world citizen or a citizen of your country?

Do you think we economically need undocumented/illegal immigrants to work in agriculture and other low-paying jobs? Would the jobs be low-paying if this labor source were not available?

Should American citizenship be automatically granted to every baby born in the United States, even if the parents are not here legally?

Should parents be required to prove their child’s (and/or their own citizenship) before registering them for free public education here?

How should the national budget “pie” be divided? Do you know how it’s divided now (what percentage is spent on military, education, etc.)?

 

Science/Nature

 

Is math the basis of the universe? If so, why? Are mathematical patterns somehow beneficial to physical constructs and organisms in an evolutionary sense?

Do you think scientists have figured out how the universe was really formed? Big Bang? ????

Is space travel to other planets feasible?

Is global warming happening? If so, is it caused by normal, planetary weather shifts, or human activity? What should be done about it?

Should we fund a space program for purely scientific/human curiosity reasons, or only for practical or military reasons?

If there are other life forms in the universe, where do you think we fit on the continuum from amoeba to “gods”?

Is sleep necessary?

How often do you get out in nature? Does your back yard qualify?

Do we need large tracts of wilderness areas? Is that an essential human need for our mental/physical health, or are local parks and recreation areas enough? Why or why not?

What, if anything, should be done about humans breeding animals for traits that humans consider cute; but create severe health problems for the animal? (Such as the breathing problems and eye-balls popping out of their sockets that pugs, bulldogs and other brachychephalic “short head” dogs suffer)

Should logging and other activities be permitted on public lands such as national parks? Are you aware of who is using national parks near you, and how?

Is it elitist to buy “organic” vegetables, “wild-caught” salmon, or “cage-free” eggs?

Do you recycle? What, Where, How, Why or Why not?

Can we get all the nutrients we need from our food, or do we need to buy supplements? What do you do?

 

Education

 

What is the purpose of education?

How were you educated as a child?

What is your best memory from high school? Your worst?

What was your best memory from elementary school? Your worst?

Are teachers’ unions good or bad for our children?

What is the goal of education? (What do you think it should be?)

Should corporations be allowed to influence the forming of educational policies?

Is education a right or a privilege?

How should teachers be evaluated? What are the pros and cons of teachers’ salaries and/or jobs being tied to how well their students perform on state tests?

Should parents have any consequence if their children are failing?

Do you believe we should have national content standards for what students should learn, complete with national tests they must pass, or should it be left to the states to set their own standards and tests?

Do you think all schools should be funded equally? Do you know how schools are funded now?

What do you think of charter schools? Do you think they are better than public schools? If so, why?

Do you think free public education K-12 is the foundation of democracy? Why or why not?

What part should technology play in education today?

Do you think school lunches are healthy? If not, how can we change that?

 

Arts & Music

 

How has music affected your life?

How has art affected your life?

Soap operas and romance novels….do they really rot your brain?

Do you dance? Hate it? Love it? Any good at it?

Can art be taught, or are some people artists and some not?

If a person is tone deaf, can he or she learn to sing?

Of what value are the arts in education?

What is your earliest memory of art?

What is your earliest memory of music?

What is your earliest memory of dance?

What role does music play in your everyday life?

What role does art play in your everyday life?

Picasso is widely considered to have been a mysogonist, does that affect your opinion of his art?

What CDs are in your car right now?

If you could play any musical instrument, which one would you choose, and why? (If you already play one, which other one would you select?)

When was the last time someone sung you a lullaby or rocked you to sleep?

When was the last time you sung someone a lullaby? Which one was it?

Is photography art?

How can we make art, music, and dance a part of our everyday lives in our homes, when TV, movies and video games are such attractive, easy alternatives for entertainment?

What is pornography?

Would you ever pose nude? Under what conditions?

Why is it OK to take pictures of topless women in Africa or some other country and not topless women here? Or is it?

What is good art vs. bad art?

What were some of your favorite books growing up? Do you still have a copy of any of them?

Can a pile of poop be art?

If you could have one artistic skill – playing an instrument, painting, singing, dancing, sculpting, writing…what would it be?

Is there a poem that has made you laugh, cry, or feel? What are your feelings about poetry?

Is opera high-brow or low-brow? Have you ever been to one? If you hate it or love it, why?

If you had to choose between short stories, poetry, novels, or plays, and none of the rest could be written, which would you choose and why?

Do certain colors move you? Which ones?

Have you ever experienced synesthesia? (colors taste a certain way, or words have sounds)

How are plays different than movies? Which do you prefer? Would you ever want to act in one? Have you?

If you could be the director, the producer, or the lead actor or actress, which job would you choose?

Work/$/Possessions

 

What is work?

Budgets: constricting or freeing? Do you have one? How closely do you live by it?

How do you handle money at your house?

Are marriages happier if the man earns more than the woman? Does it matter anymore?

Cars. Cars are such a big part of American culture – what was your first car? Your favorite car? Or did you decide not to have one?

What is the ideal work week? Five days? Three days? Seven days?

What would you do to make a living if you did not have your current occupation?

Would you continue with your work at your present job if you did not get paid (and you were able to make ends meet some other way)?

If you won the lottery, what would you do?

What does money mean to you?

House is on fire….other than kids and wallet, etc., what would you grab?

If you had to narrow down your possessions to 10 or fewer things, what would they be?

How many people know how much money you make? Why?

Did you know how much money your parents made? How was money talked about/thought about, in your home growing up? How did that influence how you thought about money?

Why do you work?

How have male/female roles changed – how do you and your spouse share the work of earning money, caring for children, doing the housework, cooking, etc.?

What does retirement mean to you? What does/will yours look like, compared to your parents’?

 

Food

 

Do you live to eat, or eat to live?

Cooking: necessarily evil or glorious creative activity?

What are your top three favorite foods?

Describe your favorite family meal – past or present.

Genetically modified, irradiated, organic/non-organic, e. coli and salmonella outbreaks. Do you think there is a problem with our food supply? How safe is America’s food supply? If you think there’s a problem, how should it be solved?

Do you feel the same about food as your spouse/parents/children?

If you could select only one ethnic cuisine (Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian…etc.) to eat for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

Is there any food you absolutely HATE? If so, what is it, and why do you dislike it?

Kids don’t always want to each their vegetables or other healthy food—how was this handled in your home growing up? If you have children, how do you/did you deal with this?

Who does the cooking at your house? Are you happy with this arrangement?

Is it cheaper to eat out or buy groceries and cook at home? Can you get enough healthy food if you eat out?

Death Row Final Meal: What would you request?

When choosing a restaurant, which is more important to you: price, atmosphere or the food?

The Family Meal: How important is eating together?

We all know children need to eat a variety of fresh, healthy foods, including lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc. The problem is, they usually prefer soda, burgers and fries. How did you, do you or will you teach your children to eat well in your home? What did and didn’t work?

Vegetarianism: silly or essential?

Monoculture, water supply: what are the pros and cons of modern agriculture?

 Drugs/Alcohol/Addiction

What is a drug? What value judgments do you make about which drugs?

Should some drugs be legalized? If so, which ones and why?

How have drugs affected your life and/or family?

Alcohol. Part of a healthy, enjoyable life or the “Devil’s Fire Water”:)? How has alcohol been a part of your life?

Do you believe in the AA model that defines a person who is addicted to alcohol as being an alcoholic for the rest of their lives, whether or not they ever drink alcohol again?

Can someone who has been an alcoholic ever drink again?

Is alcoholism a disease, or can a person change their desires and behavior through will power, counseling, nutrition or other means?

Miscellaneous

What is the proper way to load a dishwasher? (knives and forks up or down?)

Describe the perfect vacation, and then the vacation from hell! What would those look like for you?

Worst /best movie of all time?

What was your worst clothing purchase ever? (red leather pants? white Elvis belt? hooker heels you couldn’t walk in? Bill Cosby sweater? Orange golf shoes?)

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you as a teenager?

First kiss?

First official date?

Marriage Proposals: Proposed to? Did the proposing? More than one proposal? What made you say yes (or no)?

Makeup, skin care products, hair weaves: Do women need these things? Do men?

How much money or time is spent, should be spent…

(Outside of sex) What’s the most FUN you ever had?

New Year’s Resolutions: Good idea? What were yours?

If you won the lottery, how would you spend your money?