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Abstract

Many gerontologists propose definitions of wisdom. Usually these are "empirical," as opposed to a-priori or "real" definitions. In this article we defend an a-priori definition of wisdom. We briefly explain a-priori and empirical definitions, and how they relate to each other in research. After rejecting two classical a-priori definitions of wisdom, we present and defend our own, and examine its ability to predict key findings of recent empirical studies. Finally, we describe some implications of our approach for future empirical studies of wisdom.
... Western explicit theories describe wisdom as expertise and knowledge in the fundamental pragmatics of life (which includes life planning, life management, and life review) and in the meaning and conduct of life Baltes and Staudinger, 2000;Baltes et al., 1995;Dittmann-Kohli and Baltes, 1990;Smith and Baltes, 1990;Smith et al., 1994), as 'the application of tacit knowledge as mediated by values toward the achievement of a common good through a balance among multiple (a) intrapersonal, (b) interpersonal, and (c) extrapersonal interests in order to achieve a balance among (a) adaptation to existing environments, (b) shaping of existing environments, and (c) selection of new environments' (Sternberg, 1998: 347), as the transformation of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal experiences in the domains of personality, cognition, and conation (Achenbaum and Orwoll, 1991), as 'seeing through illusion ' (McKee and Barber, 1999), as understanding the deeper (interpretative) meaning of (descriptive) knowledge (Kekes, 1983), as the art of questioning (Arlin, 1990), as the balance between knowing and doubting (Meacham, 1990), as expertise in handling the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of uncertainty (Brugman, 2000), as the balance between emotion and detachment, action and inaction, and knowledge and doubt in dealing with life's vicissitudes (Birren and Fisher, 1990), or as self-transcendence (Levenson et al., 2005). ...
... The cognitive wisdom dimension in the three-dimensional model of wisdom (Figure 23.1) represents a deep understanding of life, particularly with regard to intrapersonal and interpersonal matters, and a desire to know the truth (Ardelt, 2000b;Blanchard-Fields and Norris, 1995;Chandler and Holliday, 1990;Kekes, 1983;Osbeck and Robinson, 2005;Sternberg, 1990a). To obtain such insight requires 'seeing through illusion' (McKee and Barber, 1999) and overcoming one's subjectivity and projections. Secondly, the reflective wisdom dimension entails the ability to perceive phenomena and events from multiple perspectives through the practice of self-examination, self-awareness, and self-insight. ...
... Thus, some politicians throughout the ages have used hatred and fear of outgroups as a means of manipulating their constituencies and consolidating their power; addicts often believe that "they can quit any time they want"; some justify their own injurious behavior in terms of their own feelings of victimization, and so on. Indeed, an early work by McKee and Barber (1999) argued that perspicacity, or the ability to see through illusions, was the sine qua non of wisdom. ...
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Practical wisdom is focused on sound decisions to promote a good life, while self-transcendent wisdom focuses on making ethical decisions for the greater good. Self-transcendence develops through self-knowledge, integration, and non-attachment, which focuses on decentering from egoistic perspectives. It emphasizes the interconnectedness of people and life in general, leading to a focus on ethical issues. Wisdom is generally perceived to be a characteristic of individuals, but it is clear that it develops in a social context. Further, wisdom can be considered an organizational attribute. Not only can organizational cultures promote and support the development of wisdom in individuals, but some have argued that wisdom can also be a characteristic of organizations, such as learning and adapting to new situations, making wise judgments, and focusing on the inherent ethics of any decision-making. Both practical and self-transcendent wisdom are clearly needed in our current economic and political institutions.
... Most people have a healthy sense of illusory control that helps maintain stability and well-being (e.g., Peterson & Bossio, 2001;Taylor & Brown, 1988). Wise individuals, however, are more realistically aware of the uncertainty and unpredictability of life (Baltes & Staudinger, 2000;McKee & Barber, 1999) while also feeling that, having learned from experience, they will somehow be able to master whatever happens. Thus, mastery is a dialectical concept that combines full awareness of life's uncontrollability and unpredictability with trust in one's own ability to cope. ...
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We have all had difficult times and challenges in our lives, and most of us feel that we learned something from those experiences. At the same time, few people actually become wise in the course of their lives - while most of us become (or remain) well-adapted and happy, generally satisfied, or even bitter or depressed. Why is it that some people, but not others, grow wise over time by learning from life's challenges (Linley & Joseph, 2004)? In the MORE Life Experience Model (Glück & Bluck, 2013), we argued that life challenges are catalysts for the development of wisdom, and that psychological resources crucially influence how people appraise life challenges, how they deal with them, and how they integrate them into their life story as time goes on. Based on the literature on wisdom and growth from challenging experiences, we proposed five resources as important for the development of wisdom: Mastery, Openness, Reflectivity, and Emotion Regulation including Empathy - in short, MORE. Since proposing the model, we have conducted a first empirical test of its predictions. This paper describes our expected and unexpected findings, which provide insights that we integrate to further refine and elaborate the MORE Life Experience Model. First, we describe the theoretical and empirical background of the original model.
... Wise individuals have "seen through illusion" (McKee & Barber, 1999) by transcending their subjectivity and projections, which includes the illu sion of the permanence of their own self (Levitt, 1999;Metzinger, 2003;Takahashi, 2000). Through the practice of self-examination, self-reflection, and mindfulness (Brown & Ryan, 2003), wise people have diminished their self-centeredness and achieved humility and self-transcendence (Csikszent mihalyi & Rathunde, 1990;Hart, 1987;Kekes, 1995;Levenson, Aldwin, & Cupertino, 2001;Levitt, 1999;Taranto, 1989). ...
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There has been much progress in the scientific study of wisdom on both conceptual and empirical fronts in the past few decades. Despite all the progress being made, there are still gaps that can be filled to provide even more explanatory power and coherence. Although academic discourse on wisdom has included the ability to integrate issues in a complex manner, there is still room for improved theorizing on wisdom's integrative complexity. Since integrative complexity has both conscious and unconscious dimensions, including the latter in discussions on wisdom will add a valuable aspect to its conceptualization. This article will argue how unconscious integrative complexity is the variable in wisdom's conceptual equation that involves paradox, which is a well-known sign of wisdom. Explanations contrasting conscious integrative complexity and unconscious integrative complexity in reference to wisdom will be discussed. Then, the Archetypal Test of the Nine Elements will be proposed as a testing instrument to operationalize unconscious integrative complexity. After the conceptualization and operationalization are worked through, we will conclude with a couple examples to illustrate our reflections.
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This article proposes an integrative model of wise behavior in real life. While current research findings depend considerably on how wisdom is conceptualized and measured, there are strong conceptual commonalities across psychological wisdom models. The proposed model integrates the components of several existing models into a dynamic framework explaining wise behavior. The article first specifies which real-life situations require wisdom and discusses characteristics of wise behavior. The core proposition of the model is that in challenging real-life situations, noncognitive wisdom components (an exploratory orientation, concern for others, and emotion regulation) moderate the effect of cognitive components (knowledge, metacognitive capacities, and self-reflection) on wise behavior. The model can explain the situation specificity of wisdom and the commonalities and differences between personal and general wisdom. Empirically, it accounts for the considerable variation in correlations among wisdom measures and between wisdom measures and other variables. The model has implications for the design of wisdom-fostering interventions and new wisdom measures.
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We hypothesized that a wisdom-based reasoning process comprised of epistemic humility, accounting for context, and integrating different perspectives and interests, would be helpful in overcoming intergroup bias and attitude polarization in societal conflicts. Here we test the hypothesis using both the Situated Wise Reasoning Scale and experimental induction. In each study, we recruited participants who self-identified as members of a group implicated in an ongoing intergroup situation. In five correlational studies (Studies 1-5) we examined the relations between measured wise reasoning and intergroup positivity and attitude polarization. In two experiments, we tested the effects of a brief online wise-reasoning thought exercise on intergroup positivity and polarization (Studies 6-7), and charitable behaviors to an outgroup (Study 6). We found that wise reasoning relates to more positivity toward outgroups and less attitude polarization across different groups and conflicts. The results have implications for theory and may also have implications for future research on interventions to improve intergroup relations.
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Keberadaan kebijaksanaan pada individu merupakan kualitas individu yang secara khas muncul dari hubungan integratif antara sejumlah karakter yang ada. Salah satu teori yang digunakan dalam menilai kebijaksanaan adalah wise reasoning. Wise Reasoning memiliki enam aspek yang dianalisis dari respon partisipan terhadap dilema sosial. Komponen-komponen tersebut adalah, perspektif, perubahan, fleksibel, ketidak-pastian atau batas-batas pengetahuan, kompromi dan resolusi konflik. Wise reasoning dapat dipengaruhi oleh psychological distance (immersed and distance) Rumusan masalah penelitian ini adalah; (1) Apakah terdapat perbedaan wise reasoning pada individu yang melakukan self immersed dan individu yang menggunakan self distance? (2) Apakah terdapat perbedaan wise reasoning pada individu yang pernah mengalami kasus atau yang belum pernah mengalami kasus yang sama? dan (3) Apakah terdapat perbedaan wise reasoning pada individu dengan kasus yang dialami dan belum pernah dialami dengan menggunakan self immersed dan self distance? Subjek penelitian ini sebanyak 60 mahasiswa Universitas Negeri Makassar. Rancangan penelitian yang digunakan adalah true experimental (eksperimen murni) dengan desain penelitian randomized posttest only control group design. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa psychological distance (immersed and distance) tidak memberikan hasil yang signifikan terhadap wise reasoning.
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In this chapter, we explore the ways in which the dominant wisdom, economic, and social traditions of the West can potentially integrate with some of the wisdom, economic, and social traditions of indigenous and Eastern cultures in the interest of creating a more complete understanding of links between wisdom, economics, and organizing. Western thinking tends to be based not only on a modality of constant growth but also on a worldview that is based on linear thinking and atomization and fragmentation of wholes into parts as paths that lead to understanding. These ways of thinking have resulted in the West’s putting economics, materialism, consumerism, and markets ahead of other types of values and issues. In contrast, many indigenous and Eastern traditions offer a more holistic, relationally based set of perspectives that might provide better balance in approaching issues of work, economics, and organization. Indigenous wisdom traditions, illustrated through African, Chinese, Indian, Islamic, Japanese, Māori, and Native American worldviews, offer insights into a worldview of relatedness where foundational values inform members of society on how to lead a wise life through serving others, including the environment. We believe that by integrating the perspective of wisdom traditions that offer these more holistic, interconnected, and nature-based views of the world, Western traditions could be more appreciative of the intrinsic worth and ontological differences of people and environment and that such perspectives can be very useful in our globally connected, interdependent, and, in many ways, currently unsustainable world. We offer this synthesis as a beginning of that conversation.
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Wisdom appears to be a virtue that is valued highly by most, although it is possible that the meaning of wisdom varies from person to person. In fact, since antiquity, philosophers have tried to define this elusive concept. Many of the earlier contemporary empirical wisdom research consisted of studies that attempted to summarize and synthesize laypeople's implicit theories of wisdom. Although a uniform definition of wisdom does not exist, there is a general consensus among wisdom researchers and the general public that wisdom entails cognitive knowledge, understanding, and insight, reflective thought and an integration of one's own perspective and self-interests with that of others, compassionate concern for the welfare of others, and equanimity. It is less clear what the essential elements are to operationalize and measure the multifaceted construct of wisdom, which explains the variety of approaches in the assessment of wisdom. Yet despite the diversity in measurement, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies suggest that wisdom characteristics tend to increase in adolescence and early adulthood for individuals in general but then might require a supportive social environment, educational opportunities, or a strong motivation for psychosocial growth to develop further. Average trends, however, are likely to obscure the inter-individual variability in the association between age and wisdom. Future research should therefore investigate under which circumstances wisdom grows, remains stable, or declines with age.
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Specifications are offered for a stage theory of adult cognitive development. It is argued that cognitive processes are differentially organized and expressed during periods labeled as acquisitive, achieving, responsible, executive and reintegrative. Current psychometric technologies may suffice for the description of cognitive behavior during the acquisitive and achieving periods. Such techniques are inadequate, however, to describe and understand cognitive function beyond young adulthood, and the development of novel technologies is suggested for the study of cognitive development in mid-life and old age.
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Review of the past decade of literature reveals numerous attempts to construct a workable definition of wisdom. Some researchers bypass definition and opt for factor analytical studies of common opinions about attributes of the 'wise person'. Such factors as age, experience, intelligence, knowledge, intuition, common sense, and personality variables consistently emerge from the data, but no one has attempted to link these factors to construct a unified definition of wisdom. This article compares and synthesizes the various studies and concludes that they can be unified theoretically if we view wisdom as the recognition of and response to human limitation.