New Wisdom Research Handbook: Edited by Sternberg & Glück

by Jean Matelski Boulware, Center for Practical Wisdom

The new big book of wisdom research The Cambridge Handbook of Wisdom, edited by Robert J. Sternberg (Professor of Human Development at Cornell University) and Judith Glück (Professor of Developmental Psychology at Alpen-Adria, University Klagenfurt, Austria) covers everything from wisdom measures to foundations of wisdom and teaching wisdom. The book incorporates papers with perspectives from a broad range of fields of study, thus allowing it to be a compilation and comprehensive starting point for researchers, students, or those generally interested in wisdom.

The book opens with a preface from the editors' argument:

"The study of wisdom should have something, perhaps a lot to say about why the world is where it is and what could be done to change it. What is wisdom, how can we study it, and most importantly, how can we make humanity wiser?" As such, the book spans topics of wisdom in 32 chapters from 26 research groups in medicine, psychology, sociology, philosophy, political science, and economics, among others.

This book is broken into 8 sections. Foundations of wisdom includes philosophical foundational concepts (Swartzwood & Tiberius), sociocultural foundations of wisdom (Edmondson & Woerner), a paper on the neurobiology of wisdom (Lee & Jeste), and an argument for the importance of wisdom in today's society (Sternberg). This comprehensive review tackles concepts in wisdom such as wisdom of the crowd (Weststrate, Bluck, & Glück), wisdom as self-transcendence (Aldwin, Igarashi & Levenson), wisdom as personality (Ardelt, Pridgen, & Nutter-Pridgen), reception of wisdom (Sternberg), differentiating personal and general wisdom (Staudinger), wise reasoning (Oakes, Brienza, Elnakouri, & Grossmann), practical wisdom, (Schwartz & Sharpe), and wisdom as a state (Grossmann, Kung, &Santos). The section on measures of wisdom includes work by both Webster and Kunzmann while cultural perspectives includes work by Ferrari & Alhosseni and Yang & Intezarri. Wisdom development is discussed as education (Ferrari & Kim) and teaching (Sternberg & Hagen) as well as development of wisdom in adulthood (Glück). The psychological perspectives on wisdom comprise the largest contribution to the handbook including work on giftedness (Ambrose), foolishness (Aczel), creativity (Sternberg), spirituality (Takahashi), well-being (Ardelt), emotion (Kunzmann & Glück), ethics (Sternberg & Glück), purpose (Ratner & Burrow), and competency (Weststrate). A section on wisdom in the real world is focused on wisdom in action with papers on wise leadership (McKenna & Rooney), in professions (Levitt & Grabowski), politics (Etheredge), medicine (Kaldjian), and Maxwell's argument on an urgent need for wisdom. The handbook closes with final words from the editors in their call to action.

In a modest statement, Sternberg and Glück note

"Perhaps there is hope - at least, more and more people seem to understand that we need to understand wisdom and, more importantly, to act wisely. While this volume perhaps will not have an immediate effect on the state of the world, it might provoke new ideas and spark new research both in academia and in real-life applied contexts."

The handbook and the individual contributions can be found at the Cambridge University Press website.

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