Toronto Wisdom Task Force

Click here to watch the Wisdom Task Force discourse!

This July, a group of world's leading wisdom researchers and major empirical wisdom labs gathered in Toronto to address the current state of wisdom research. The event was hosted by Igor Grossmann and Marc Fournier at the University of Toronto.

The goal of the group, the Toronto Wisdom Task Force, was to develop a concise definition of wisdom-related characteristics from an empirical perspective. They discussed assumptions and practices guiding research in the leading wisdom research labs around the world. Presenters at the Wisdom Task Force meeting included Ann Feng (on behalf of Chao Hu, Hangzhou Normal University), Igor Grossmann from the University of Waterloo, Howard Nusbaum from the University of Chicago, Michel Ferrari from the Ontario Institute for Science in Education at the University of Toronto, Monika Ardelt from the University of Florida, John Vervaeke from the University of Toronto, Nic Weststrate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Marc Fournier from the University of Toronto.

The day long gathering focused on topics including the role of moral-grounding on wisdom-related characteristics, research outcomes with concrete goals vs process development, and the role of emotion, emotional intelligence, and emotion regulation in wisdom.

Dr. Grossmann reported "Surprisingly, despite different theoretical orientation, there was a remarkable degree of substantive agreement concerning the central questions. In particular, we agreed that practical wisdom facilitates a good life and such good life orientation requires consideration of processes fostering the balance of self-protective goals on the one hand and cooperative goals as well as other fairness-related concerns on the other hand -often described by scholars as 'orientation toward a common good'."

Based on the day's dialogue, the task force concluded that empirical measures of wisdom and wisdom related characteristics should be oriented toward this morally-grounded goal of good life orientation to differentiate wisdom-related characteristics from other general cognitive abilities and intelligences such as emotional intelligence. Researchers further pointed out that wisdom-related characteristics include epistemic humility, openness to diverse, opposing views and search for ways to balance and integrate different goals and perspectives. Further, the Wisdom Task Force delineated that emotion-focused processes often accompany wisdom characteristics, but do not represent key constituents. Grossmann clarified "One can have superior emotion regulation or emotional intelligence skills, and yet not be able to consider the bigger picture or balance others' interests with one's own" thus limiting the scope of their wisdom and wise reasoning.

The Wisdom Task Force will be working toward formally evaluating the results of a large scale survey on empirical approaches to wisdom, and to summarize the results from the meeting. They aim to produce a hallmark position paper to establish the commonly agreed upon perspectives on and definition of wisdom in empirical sciences to better disseminate wisdom research and help spread understanding in the best practices of its measurement.

To keep up to date on the Wisdom Task Force, visit the Wisdom and Culture Lab website and watch the video of the meeting here.

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