Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Exploring Wisdom in Relationship with Coping Styles, Social Desirability, Subjective Wellbeing, Age and Gender

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Exploring Wisdom in Relationship with Coping Styles, Social Desirability, Subjective Wellbeing, Age and Gender

Article excerpt

In the past few years Wisdom has been an upcoming area of research in the field of psychology. The west has shared some interesting work on wisdom and its correlates, development, variables contributing to wisdom, and many other wisdom related life skills. To the best of the author's knowledge, the concept of wisdom as a psychological construct hasn't been taken up extensively as a part of research in India. Despite the blessings of abundant spiritual and religious knowledge found in our Ancient Indian texts (Vedas, The Gita, Guru Granth Sahib ji, etc.), there hasn't been much work on characteristics of wise people and wisdom in everyday life. There is also a need to see if the work done in the west finds similar results in the Asian context and how significant are the cultural differences.

In this study, a brief overview will be given of how wise people cope? Is there any gender difference in wisdom? Does wisdom necessarily increase with age? Do wise people have the need to impress others? Are wise people able to accept the negative side of their personality (self deception)? Are wise people happier? All of this has been answered using standardized self report measures and statistical analysis.

Over the past two decades many definitions of wisdom have been proposed. Surprisingly, the construct of wisdom is such that it is difficult to arrive at one specific definition. Many people confuse wisdom with intelligence, creativity, moral reasoning and knowledge. Here a few of the many differences between the above mentioned constructs will be discussed based on Robert J Sternberg's work (Sternberg, 1990). According to Sternberg, wisdom, creativity and intelligence are the same. What makes them different is their use. Difference between Wisdom, Intelligence and Creativity: A wise person gets into an in depth clarity seeking by focusing on the question of "why." He/she doesn't rely on automatic assumptions. Whereas, an intelligent person looks for automatic solutions and routines which help him solve a problem faster. A creative person has no interest in the"why" of what he does. He's interested in exploring new things which carry an element of originality or uniqueness. Furthermore, intelligence is the discovery of new truths and wisdom is understanding the depth of the existing ones (Ardelt, 2008). Secondly, a wise person is capable of comfortably accepting the contradictions, uncertainties and ambiguities in life. They know that they don't know it all. An intelligent person would like to solve the ambiguity. He can tolerate the uncertainty of life only if he is both wise and intelligent. A creative person tolerates ambiguity with discomfort (Sternberg, 1990).

Difference between Wisdom and Moral Reasoning: Whereas, moral reasoning is limited to matters of justice and fairness, wisdom involves judgments and insights about issues that are not only of moral concerns but other than moral concerns as well. Some problem situations require practical solutions instead of moral solutions. Moral reasoning involves looking at one aspect like justice, fairness and care. Wisdom on the other hand involves taking into account multiple aspects other than just the moral aspect. Therefore, wisdom is broader and all entailing.

Difference between Wisdom and Knowledge: Knowledgeable people are not necessarily humble if they are under the illusion that they know. Humility and transcendence of self are qualities of the wise. Thus, knowledgeable can be prone to superiority and excessive ego which the wise are capable of controlling (Ardelt, 2008).

Definitions of Wisdom: While some researchers focus on the "expertise" as a feature of wisdom, a few focus on acceptance of limitations of knowledge as a quality of the wise and some focus on integration of cognitive, reflective and affective aspects of life as wise. Meacham (1990) defines wisdom as an awareness of not knowing everything in life. Baltes and Smith (1993) define wisdom as "an expertise in the domain of fundamental pragmatics of life, such as life planning and life review. …

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