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Proceeding from the idea that wisdom encompasses both elements, character and knowledge, personality and competence, in this chapter, I argue that an appropriate empirical assessment of wisdom ideally involves two types of measures: self-report questionnaires to assess wisdom as personality and performance-based to assess wisdom as knowledge. Seen from this perspective, two aspects of wisdom research appear troublesome, namely, the one-sided focus of most wisdom studies on either self-report measures or performance-based measures and the increasing exclusive reliance of empirical research on the self-report method in recent years. One reason for the rise of self-report studies could be that performance-based methods are costly in terms of both data collection in the context of individual interviews and data processing via relatively complex coding procedures. As I will argue in this chapter, for both theoretical and method-related reasons, however, we cannot afford to cast aside using and further developing performance-based methods.
Perhaps because the struggle of reason against emotion is an appealing image, emotion has rarely been considered a defining characteristic of wisdom. In this chapter, we argue that psychological wisdom research would benefit from a systematic investigation of the dynamic between wisdom and emotion for at least three related reasons. First, emotions provide important information to the self and others and can guide our behavior in situations that are complex, difficult, and uncertain, but require immediate action. Second, in many such situations it would be irrational to ignore one’s emotions because they are pretty much the only type of information that is available. Third, many, if not all, situations that require wisdom are inherently emotional and, thus, evoke emotions in the people concerned and require knowledge and skills to manage and regulate these emotions.
Psychological approaches to successful aging would be incomplete if they failed to incorporate human strengths such as altruism, morality, or a personality growth orientation, even if these characteristics are likely to be incompatible with a constant experience of positive affect, because they require the ability to tolerate and make use of mixed and negative experiences This chapter that it is worth the effort to strive for wisdom, even if wisdom should be considered an ideal that most individuals cannot even come close to. The way towards wisdom is demanding and, thus, it does not come as a surprise that only very few individuals, if any, score high on performance-based measures of wisdom-related knowledge. There also is no evidence for the idea that wisdom automatically comes with age or that wiser individuals are better adjusted as, for example, manifested in higher life satisfaction, better jobs and careers, or a more fulfilling social life. And yet, wisdom-related knowledge is an essential element of the good life; it fosters generativity and the common good and can give guidance in times of crises because it is grounded in deep insight into human nature and the life course. Wisdom suggests constructive ways of making sense of existential issues that may be threatening to many, but that need to be addressed in order to fully exploit what it means to be human; thus, wisdom could be considered as a constituent element of successful life.
RESEARCH ON INTELLIGENCE IN GERMAN-SPEAKING COUNTRIES
Philosophical and scientific traditions of a given region shape a researcher's conception of intelligence and the methods he or she employs to study mental abilities. In this chapter, we highlight an arguably unique aspect of intelligence research in German-speaking countries, namely, the emphasis on investigations of intellectual abilities from a contextual and/or lifespan perspective. In this research tradition, intellectual development has been considered as a dynamic lifelong process that involves a continual interplay between individuals' biological and sociocultural inheritances. Considering intellectual abilities from such a perspective goes hand in hand with a research focus on the processes and functions of intelligent behavior rather than with a focus on measuring and predicting the product of intelligence per se.
This chapter is divided into four sections. First, we review the historical tradition of lifespan developmental conceptions developed in German-speaking countries since the 18th century. Second, we introduce a modern dual-process model of lifespan intellectual development that emphasizes two distinct but interactive aspects of intelligence (i.e., the mechanics and pragmatics of the mind). Although many researchers in this region do not explicitly focus on developmental aspects, in our view, components and processes of intelligence studied can be related to the dual-process model. Hence, we use this model as an organizational framework to help structure the review of contemporary research on intelligence in the third part of the chapter.
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