Wisdom In A Complex World, Part II

2/5/2019 8:44:02 PM


Wisdom In A Complex World-Part II

By Igor Grossman

Wise reasoning and Pro-sociality

Our group performed a study in which we asked people to play a sort of public good skill. It is a simple game in which in addition to the amount of money you are given to participate in the study, you are given another contribution that you can either invest in a common pool or take out by yourself. If each participant contributes to stick common pool, it will be doubled and everybody gets more money. Now, if you really go rational from a kind of economical perspective, what you should just do is be a slacker: Don’t put anything into the common pool and others would put something into it, and it will be doubled! This way you will get something in return in addition to whatever you save, and you have not invested it at all. 

Ego tells you that it is better not to put anything into this common pool, but if you trust others and if you really want the maximum benefit, you should cooperate and ignore your ego, in other words, try some selflessness. So, we asked people to spend some time thinking about the situation, thinking about this game and we compared adults who are more likely to reason wisely in personal life for those who don’t. What we found was that, if you give time to people to deliberate, you will find a big difference that the contribution of wiser reasoners is about 50 percent more than the contribution of the "not so wise reasoners". If you decide spontaneously, there will be not much difference. Also, we have done it in the context of the workplace only to find that wise reasoners are more likely to engage in a set of more adaptive resolutions in interpersonal conflicts at work as well as in personal life.

How Stable is Wisdom?

One interesting question that psychologists were interested in was how stable are this type of processes. So, when you about some kind of wisdom exemplars such as Gandhi, mother Teresa and Martin Luther King you might realize that wisdom is fairly rare and only a few people have it. If you think a lot further about any of these exemplars, you find something about how to live a virtues life and how have they contributed to the society and lived to change the world. Right? But, if you look at the biography, you will also know that

Gandhi was a raciest, Mother Teresa used to needle and Luther King got to bring up his sex preferences as well as he was known for his speech. Bottom line is there is kind of diverges depends on the situation YES or NO and there is certainly a lot of inconsistency in that behaviour. In fact, many wisdom exemplars show inconsistencies in wisdom across domains of their lives. So, I was interested in this question "Do normal people, like these exemplars, show fluctuations in wisdom?" 

Fluctuations of Wisdom

I did a simple dairy stay, like psychologists sometimes do despite it is really sadistic for participants, every day for nine days. I asked them to recall the worst things that happen to them on that day, to reflect on it, and to reconstruct the experience, memory, and the recall the biases, using some kind of specific procedure [DRM procedure]. I then asked them to report on their intellectual humility, ambivalence in predictions, perspective-taking, compromise and self-transcendent viewpoint. More elaborately, I asked them to report on how much more information do they need about the situation that they recognize they need more information. How certain were they in predictions? Did they consider different perspectives? Were they willing to compromise of somebody else involved? Did they take this kind of more observe perspectives on the issue? Were they looking at the situation from the self-interested perspective? There are two types of measurement based on this observation: 

First; you can look at the variability between people, simply inter-individual variability from the sample mean. In psychology we call this "the trait level", which would indicate stability or inconsistency of the variable. Second is a kind of specific variability: how much this person differs in this particular situation from his/her overall performance over the course of nine days. We call this latter the "state-level" which is about the situational processes. What we found was that there is less much variability within the person across days that there is variability between people and average suggesting that there is a quite bit of fluctuation in the level of ones wise reasoning. 

It also turns out that if you look at days in which people reported feeling just alone or having sort of a difficult issue, which did not involve people at work or close others, they were less likely to take the observer viewpoint as compared to the situation in which they were surrounded by either close friends and family or their co-workers. It means that they had wiser reasoning in social vs. non-social contexts. Another thing that was interesting here is that the same people reported having healthier ways of regulating their emotions, more forgiveness, and being happy. We could also figure out where the state or trait level effect is more likely to protect your emotion regulations and forgiveness. It is on the special situations but you see a stronger effect of state over trait. In other words, being a wise person had little impact on a particular situation if the individual handled it unwisely in the given moment.

Follow Us Through the Last Part Of The UQR Trilogy: Wisdom In A Complex World…

Missed the Part I? https://usern.tums.ac.ir/News/New?title=Wisdom%20In%20A%20Complex%20World


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