Welcome from the Center Director & Founder

The Center for Practical Wisdom was started by a group of scientists and scholars at the University of Chicago with an interest in human decision making that is concerned with how our decisions affect others. From Aristotle, our working definition of practical wisdom is practical decision making that leads to human flourishing. While much of the world, since Binet, the father of the IQ test, has focused on the importance of intelligence for society, intelligence is about solving problems without consideration for the impact of the solutions on others. By contrast, we think about practical wisdom or wise reasoning as considering value commitments that are concerned with understanding the impact of decisions on others.

As a Center, we focus on both increasing an understanding of wise reasoning from a scientific perspective, as well as trying to understand how wisdom can have benefits for society generally. The Center supports research on wise reasoning and specifically focuses on how experience can increase wise reasoning.  From this perspective, we believe that wisdom is something that develops with experience and that perhaps, almost everyone could be a little wiser.

We seek to understand the foundations of wisdom such as perspective taking, reflection, epistemic humility, insight, emotional intelligence, and perseverance in intellectual struggle. Our research ranges from the effect of the language we use on wise reasoning to different kinds of decision experiences to cultural differences in wise reasoning. 

As a group that spans researchers in philosophy, economics, music, psychology, and neuroscience, we use a variety of research methods and approaches in our study of wisdom.  Moreover, we consider the importance of wise reasoning to professions such as medicine, education, engineering, law, and business in order to improve the professions and to benefit society more broadly.



image of howard nusbaum

Dr. Howard C. Nusbaum

Center Director and Founder; Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology