You've probably noticed that many people are good at giving advice, but may struggle to employ that same wisdom to deal with their own personal problems. You've probably also heard about the dangers of "being too close to the problem" to make objectively wise decisions.
In recent years, researchers have found that a concept known as "intellectual humility," or the ability to recognize that outside perspectives may be required to fully understand a situation, is key to making better personal decisions. Now new research finds that people who sincerely aim to make themselves better people may excel at taking an objective look at themselves and their biases, which could also lead to better personal decision making and success in the long run.
"Our findings suggest that people who value virtuous motives may be able to reason wisely for themselves, and overcome personal biases observed in previous research," explains psychological scientist Alex Huynh of the University of Waterloo. "To our knowledge, this is the first research that empirically ties this conceptualization of virtue with wisdom, a connection that philosophers have been making for over two millennia."
The research is published in the journal Psychological Science.
Another way to look at these findings is as a way to take the concept of karma out of the spiritual realm and provide a psychology-based proof for the ancient notion that good deeds and intentions pay dividends in the form of wisdom, which leads to making more of the right moves and getting closer to fulfillment.
"Everyone is susceptible to becoming too invested in their own perspectives, but this doesn't have to be the case for everybody," says Huynh. "As these findings suggest, your own personality and motivational orientation can influence your ability to approach your personal problems in a calmer, wiser manner."
Researchers hope the findings will open new avenues for research into how to increase a person's level of reasoning, but it seems that one takeaway is clear: Becoming a more wise person starts with aiming to become a better person.