Situations in Which I Was Wise: Autobiographical Wisdom Memories of Children and Adolescents

König, S. and Glück, J. (2012), Situations in Which I Was Wise: Autobiographical Wisdom Memories of Children and Adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 22: 512–525. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2012.00800.x

Previous studies with adults have shown that age has an important influence on laypeople's wisdom theories. However, children's and adolescents' understanding of the concept of wisdom has hardly been investigated. In the current study, 80 children and adolescents completed a questionnaire concerning an event where they had been wise and an event where another person acted wisely. Most participants reported difficult life situations such as conflicts or accidents. In describing their wisdom, they focused on being empathic and supportive, which is likely related to their predominant developmental tasks. The persons described as wise were on average 29 years old. Contrary to expectations more females than men were described as wise. As expected, wisdom descriptions differed somewhat by gender and age group.

“I settled a dispute between some of my friends,” “I told the truth in court,” “My boyfriend was at a loss and wanted to commit suicide, so I comforted him and propped him up.” When do children and adolescents consider themselves wise, and how do they define wisdom?

Wisdom, a topic of growing interest in psychology (Ardelt, 2005), is often considered an ideal endpoint of human development and generally associated with the second half of life (e.g., Baltes & Smith, 1990; Clayton & Birren, 1980; Holliday & Chandler, 1986). Therefore, most wisdom research has focused on adults, and only a few studies (e.g., Pasupathi, Staudinger, & Baltes, 2001) have included adolescent samples. It is interesting, however, to examine what children and adolescents mean by wisdom, and how they relate the concept of wisdom to their own life. Previous studies suggest that people's views of wisdom are influenced by their current life situations, priorities, and developmental tasks (Glück, Bluck, Baron, & McAdams, 2005). Thus, children's and adolescents' views may reflect important developmental themes in these respective life phases. The current study investigated children's and adolescents' autobiographical wisdom memories concerning situations in which they were wise and situations in which another person acted wisely. The focus is on the types of situations and the forms of wisdom reported. In the following, we briefly review the current wisdom research, with an emphasis on work about laypeople's conceptions of wisdom, wisdom in real life, and the relation of wisdom to age. Then, predictions concerning the wisdom conceptions of children and adolescents are derived.

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(Something interesting I found)Posted:Apr 01 2012, 12:00 AM by brendah
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