Training for Wisdom

The Distanced-Self-Reflection Diary Method

Abstract: How can people wisely navigate social conflict? Two preregistered longitudinal experiments (Study 1: Canadian adults; Study 2: American and Canadian adults; total N = 555) tested whether encouraging distanced (i.e., third-person) self-reflection would help promote wisdom. Both experiments measured wise reasoning (i.e., intellectual humility, open-mindedness about how situations could unfold, consideration of and attempts to integrate diverse viewpoints) about challenging interpersonal events. In a month-long experiment (Study 1), participants used either a third- or first-person perspective in diary reflections on each day’s most significant experience. Compared with preintervention assessments, assessments made after the intervention revealed that participants reflecting in the third person showed a significant increase in wise reasoning about interpersonal challenges. These effects were statistically accounted for by shifts in diary-based reflections toward a broader self-focus. A week-long experiment (Study 2) replicated the third-person self-reflection effect on wise reasoning (vs. first-person and no-pronoun control conditions). These findings suggest an efficient and evidence-based method for fostering wise reasoning.

Read the articleGrossmann, I., Dorfman, A., Oakes, H., Santos, H. C., Vohs, K. D., & Scholer, A. (2019). Training for Wisdom: The Distanced Self-Reflection Diary Method.Psychological Science.