Social Psychology of Wisdom in an uncertain world - Webinar by Igor Grossmann
07th October 2019, 3pm GMT
Climate change, populism, tribalism, and denial of science in some parts of the global populous – in times like these social critiques and philosophers often call for greater wisdom. Yet, what is wisdom and how does one develop it? Philosophers argue that knowledge is insufficient for wisdom. Instead, they have argued that wisdom requires certain aspects of meta-cognition to flexibility navigate complex environments without a clearly-defined decision space: intellectual humility, consideration of multiple perspectives and ways a situation may unfold, observer viewpoint on a situation, and integration of different perspectives. Typical approaches to study these processes are person-centric, use faulty methods and produce insights of little relevance to construct’s definition. In the present talk I propose that understanding the mental processes underlying wisdom require a social psychological framework, supported by emerging empirical insights. Wise reasoning (i.e., intellectual humility, open-mindedness, recognition of broader perspectives and possible changes, integration of diverse viewpoints) varies dramatically across cultures, regions, economic strata, and situational contexts. Results indicate that social contexts (e.g., being together with friends/work-colleagues) promote wise reasoning than non-social situations, self-focused contexts inhibit wise reasoning, and psychological strategies combating egocentrism sustain wise reasoning when making personal decisions. Moreover, experiments and observations of daily behavior demonstrate that individual’s level of wisdom varies dramatically from one situation to another. By adopting a social psychological perspective, psychologists can address some paradoxes about wisdom, including biases and errors in decontextualized versus context-variable assessments and a greater propensity for wise reasoning about social versus personal challenges, despite greater knowledge about personal issues. Moreover, a social psychological perspective suggests the propensity for wisdom in the population can also shape its surrounding. This new approach to wisdom is enriching our understanding and exploration of practical wisdom as a mental process and a societal asset at large. It can pave a path to evidence-based interventions promoting greater wisdom in the context of interpersonal uncertainties and political conflicts.
Igor Grossmann, University of Waterloo, Canada
Igor Grossmann is an Associate Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Wisdom and Research Lab based at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. His main research interest is the complex processes that enable individuals to think and act wisely. He has also done pioneering work on the development of wisdom in different cultures. Dr. Grossmann was named one of the 2015 Rising Stars in the field of Psychological Science.
You can get in touch with Igor Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org.