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Description: Are you wise (not as in wise guy but as in wise like an owl)? What does wisdom involve? What sorts of things, if you observed them in the behavior of, or otherwise applying to, a particular person would lead you towards thinking that they were a wise person? Now think of this as an individual difference psychology question. What sort of questions would you ask them to assist you in your assessment of their wiseness?  What if you did not want to ask them essay type questions, what sort of survey or rating scale (e.g., 1 to 5) questions would you ask them to assess their wiseness? Would you be able to determine a level of wisdom by asking only 7 questions? Sound too simple for such a weighty construct? Well, it might be but, the survey construction question is can a 7-item scale be valid. To find out what is meant by valid and how validity and which 7 items are determined, rad the article linked below and, for more detail and to get a look at the 7 items, have a look at the research article the linked article refers to (link in the Further Reading section below). Then start your search for wise people!

Source: Can seven questions determine how wise you are? ScienceDirect.

Date: Dec 3, 2021

Image by GDJ from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/12/211203081529.htm

So, what are the 7 questions? Well, here they are:

  1. I remain calm under pressure
  2. I avoid self-reflection (reverse scored)
  3. I enjoy being exposed to diverse viewpoints
  4. I tend to postpone making major decisions as long as I can (reverse scored)
  5. I often don’t know what to tell people when they come to me for advice (reverse scored)
  6. My spiritual belief gives me inner strength
  7. I avoid situations where I know my help will be needed (reverse scored)

If you think of this scale as the point of a pyramid, you can begin to work backwards to the thicker bits and come to a better understanding of how individual difference psychologists develop scales and determine validity. The concepts in question arose from previous research and lead to the statement that wisdom is “comprised of 7 components: self-reflection, pro-social behaviors (such as empathy, compassion and altruism), emotional regulation, acceptance of diverse perspectives, decisiveness, social advising (such as giving rational and helpful advice to others) and spirituality.” Those concepts seem to make sense, but how comfortable are you that each of the 7 items solidly (validly) captures its responsive wisdom component or concept? Well scores on the 7-item scale correlate with things that are believed to be positively correlated with wisdom including resilience, happiness and mental well-being and strongly negatively correlated with loneliness, depression and anxiety. Not bad! If this feels a bit thin or fragile to you it might help to know that the development of a short scale is NOT seem as and end goal. The value of having such a short, valid, scale is that it can be more easily deployed in a wide range of additional research, and applied intervention situations and can broaden our understanding of wisdom and its role in human adaptation and functioning.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What makes some people wise?
  2. What sorts of things that can observe or ask about help you decide if a person is wise?
  3. What sorts of used might a 7-item scale of wisdom have both in terms of research and in terms of application/intervention?

References (Read Further):

Thomas, Michael L., Palmer, Barton W., Lee, Ellen E., Liu, Jinyuan, Daly, Rebecca, Tu, Xin M., Jeste, Dilip V. (2021)  Abbreviated San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE-7) and Jeste-Thomas Wisdom Index (JTWI). International Psychogeriatrics, Online First. Link

Glück, J. (2018). Measuring wisdom: Existing approaches, continuing challenges, and new developments. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 73(8), 1393-1403. Link

Glück, J. (2018). New developments in psychological wisdom research: A growing field of increasing importance. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Volume 73, Issue 8, 1335–1338. Link

Gugerell, S. H., & Riffert, F. (2011). On defining “wisdom”: Baltes, Ardelt, Ryan, and Whitehead. Interchange, 42(3), 225-259. Link

Law, A., & Staudinger, U. M. (2016). Eudaimonia and wisdom. In Handbook of eudaimonic well-being (pp. 135-146). Springer, Cham. Link

Ardelt, M. (2004). Where can wisdom be found?. Human Development, 47(5), 304-307. Link

Glück, J., König, S., Naschenweng, K., Redzanowski, U., Dorner-Hörig, L., Straßer, I., & Wiedermann, W. (2013). How to measure wisdom: Content, reliability, and validity of five measures. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 405. Link