The Science of Wisdom in a Polarized World: Knowns and Unknowns

Abstract: Interest in wisdom in the cognitive sciences, psychology, and education has been paralleled by conceptual confusions about its nature and assessment. To clarify these issues and promote consensus in the field, wisdom researchers met in Toronto in July of 2019, resolving disputes through discussion. Guided by a survey of scientists who study wisdom-related constructs, we established a common wisdom model, observing that empirical approaches to wisdom converge on the morally-grounded application of metacognition to reasoning and problem-solving. After outlining the function of relevant metacognitive and moral processes, we critically evaluate existing empirical approaches to measurement and offer recommendations for best practices. In the subsequent sections, we use the common wisdom model to selectively review evidence about the role of individual differences for development and manifestation of wisdom, approaches to wisdom development and training, as well as cultural, subcultural, and social-contextual differences. We conclude by discussing wisdom’s conceptual overlap with a host of other constructs and outline unresolved conceptual and methodological challenges.

Read the article: Grossmann, I., Weststrate, N. M., Ardelt, M., Brienza, J. P., Dong, M., Ferrari, M., ... & Vervaeke, J. (2020). The science of wisdom in a polarized world: Knowns and unknowns. Psychological Inquiry31(2), 103-133.