Article

Wisdom

Judith Glück

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online February 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0061
Wisdom

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While wisdom was the central topic of philosophy and a very important topic in the religious sciences for centuries, psychology neglected the topic for a long time. Possible reasons for this blind spot include the complexity of wisdom, which makes it difficult to assess with standardized measures, and a certain negative view of processes associated with aging. Only in the 1980s did wisdom slowly begin to attract the interest of psychological researchers. Soon, empirical wisdom research was somewhat dominated by the Berlin wisdom model, a comprehensive theory and measurement paradigm developed by Paul Baltes and his coworkers (including Jacqui Smith, Ursula Staudinger, and Ute Kunzmann) at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. Only since about 2000 has a broader variety of theoretical conceptions and empirical approaches begun to flourish. Currently, wisdom research is a growing field characterized by a multitude of definitions and methods but also an emerging consensus on some central questions. One general pattern is that much earlier research tended to conceptualize wisdom largely as a cognitive construct. For example, the Berlin wisdom model was originally based on research on cognitive expertise, and therefore defined wisdom as expertise in the important matters of human existence. Such conceptions acknowledged the fact that the subject matter of wisdom involved social relations, emotions, moral considerations, and the like, but they assumed essentially that the core of wisdom was an intellectual competency, and noncognitive characteristics could be correlates, predictors, or outcomes but not components of wisdom. More recent models tend to take a different view, conceptualizing noncognitive characteristics such as affect as an inherent part of wisdom. Thus, they view wisdom less as an abstract “body of knowledge” and more as a combination of experience-based knowledge, personality, and attitude. Staudinger, Dörner, and Mickler’s article “Wisdom and Personality” (Staudinger, et al. 2005 under Identity and Personality) suggested that the former approaches refer to “general wisdom,” that is, wisdom about people and the world that is relatively independent of the self, and the latter approaches are about “personal wisdom,” that is, wisdom obtained through reflection and integration of one’s own experiences.

Article.  11316 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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