Abstract: Self-reflection is a fundamental precondition and core competency associated with wisdom. Despite a longstanding association between self-reflection and wisdom in the minds of laypeople and experts, this relationship is surprisingly understudied. Recent research has shown that relatively wise people engage in a type of self-reflective processing that emphasizes exploration and learning from the past. The directions for future research in this area are abundant. Although self-reflective processing modes are likely to be dispositional, this research creates exciting possibilities for enhancing wisdom in individuals and society through building people's capacity to make meaning of their experiences in relatively wise ways. This chapter clarifies the meaning of self-reflection, differentiating it from a number of related concepts that have also appeared in the wisdom literature. It then locates self-reflection in layperson and expert conceptions of wisdom. The chapter reviews empirical associations between self-reflection and wisdom, focusing most of the discussion on the unique mode of self-reflective processing that relatively wise people use to make sense of the personal past, in contrast to another mode that instead facilitates psychological adjustment, and may hamper the development of wisdom. Finally, the chapter reviews research that suggests that individuals can be trained to self-reflect in wisdom-fostering ways.
Read the chapter: Weststrate, N. M. (2019). The mirror of wisdom: Self-reflection as a developmental precursor and core competency of wise people. In R. J. Sternberg & J. Glück (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of wisdom (p. 500–518). Cambridge University Press.