Thirty Years of Psychological Wisdom Research:

What We Know About the Correlates of an Ancient Concept

Abstract: Psychologists have studied the ancient concept of wisdom for 3 decades. Nevertheless, apparent discrepancies in theories and empirical findings have left the nomological network of the construct unclear. Using multilevel meta-analyses, we summarized wisdom’s correlations with age, intelligence, the Big Five personality traits, narcissism, self-esteem, social desirability, and well-being. We furthermore examined whether these correlations were moderated by the general approach to conceptualizing and measuring wisdom (i.e., phenomenological wisdom as indexed by self-report vs. performative wisdom as indexed by performance ratings), by specific wisdom measures, and by variable-specific factors (e.g., age range, type of intelligence measures, and well-being type). Although phenomenological and performative approaches to conceptualizing and measuring wisdom had some unique correlates, both were correlated with openness, hedonic well-being, and eudaimonic well-being, especially the growth aspect of eudaimonic well-being. Differences between phenomenological and performative wisdom are discussed in terms of the differences between typical and maximal performance, self-ratings and observer ratings, and global and state wisdom. This article will help move the scientific study of wisdom forward by elucidating reliable wisdom correlates and by offering concrete suggestions for future empirical research based on the meta-analytic findings.

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Dong, M., Weststrate, N. M., & Fournier, M. A. (2023). Thirty years of psychological wisdom research: What we know about the correlates of an ancient concept. Perspectives on Psychological Science18(4), 778-811.