A Year in Review

The Center for Practical Wisdom: A look back at 2016

2016 marked the opening of the University of Chicago Center for Practical Wisdom. Led by Center Director Howard C. Nusbaum, the Center aims to advance the science of wisdom and its role in the decisions that affect everyday life. We want to understand how an individual develops wisdom and the circumstances and situations in which people are most likely to make wise decisions. We hope that, by deepening our scientific understanding of wisdom, we will also begin to understand how to gain, reinforce, and apply wisdom and, in turn, become wiser as a society.

The Center for Practical Wisdom connects scientists, scholars, educators, and students at the University of Chicago with researchers and scholars internationally, and provides guidance and support for learning about wisdom research. The Center encourages collaborations, and works to disseminate research findings and educational resources to both academic and public audiences.

To this end, we have published research articles, organized annual wisdom research forums, and hosted visiting scholars from other universities and organizations, both domestic and abroad, including Spain, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, and Israel. Our website, monthly eNewsletter, and social media platforms provide a hub for online resources and ongoing discussions among its members. If you would like to join our network, click here. The articles below highlight some of the Center's accomplishments of 2016.

Highlights of Center Publications from 2016

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MENTAL AND SOMATIC PRACTICES AND WISDOM by Patrick B. Williams, Heather H. Mangelsdorf, Carly Kontra, Howard C. Nusbaum, & Berthold Hoeckner

Abstract: In this study we sought to explore how experience with specific mental and somatic practices is associated with wisdom, using self-report measures of experience and wisdom. We administered standard surveys to measure wisdom and experience among four groups of practitioners of mental and somatic practices, namely, meditators, practitioners of the Alexander Technique, practitioners of the Feldenkrais Method, and classical ballet dancers...

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USING FOREIGN LANGUAGE CHANGES OUR CHOICES By Sayuri Hayakawa, Albert Costa, Alice Foucart, & Boaz Keysar

Abstract: A growing literature demonstrates that using a foreign language affects choice. This is surprising because if people understand their options, choice should be language independent. Here, we review the impact of using a foreign language on risk, inference, and morality, and discuss potential explanations, including reduced emotion, psychological distance, and increased deliberation.

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TOWARD A NEUROSCIENCE OF WISDOM By Patrick B. Williams & Howard C. Nusbaum

Chapter excerpt: Wisdom is a quality of human nature that has been discussed extensively throughout history, perhaps most notably by Aristotle. In modern times, however, despite being considered a pinnacle of human cognition, there has been little public discourse about wisdom or its importance in human enterprise and even less scientific study of wisdom, although in recent years this has been increasing. Furthermore, much of the scientific study of wisdom has focused on describing the components of wisdom and its association (or lack thereof) with age and not on wisdom as a unified construct or how wisdom may be cultivated in life...

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TRADING EXPERIENCE MODULATES ANTERIOR INSULA TO REDUCE THE ENDOWMENT EFFECT By Lester C. P. Tong, Karen J. Ye, Kentaro Asai, Seda Ertac, John A. List, Howard C. Nusbaum, & Ali Horta├žsu

Abstract: Trading experience has been shown to reduce the endowment effect, a decision-making bias that distorts market prices and reduces trade. Understanding the mechanisms underlying how experience changes this bias will provide important insights for developing interventions to improve market efficiency. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show that market experience causes a reduction in right anterior insula activation...

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