USQ researchers seek to measure human wisdom

Can psychologists develop an accurate scale for measuring the development of wisdom?

A new psychological measure of wisdom being developed might be able to tell whether you make good life choices.

The University of Southern Queensland is working on developing a new measure that would enable researchers to "accurately and objectively" capture an individual's level of wisdom.

Psychology Professor Bob Knight said the study would focus on how people made decisions about important life problems.

"We're working on developing a questionnaire type scale that compares the respondents' answers to the definition and answers rated by experts in psychology of wisdom as being high, medium, or low in wisdom," said Professor Knight.

Wisdom is difficult to define, but Professor Knight said the study would use a modified version of the Berlin Wisdom Group's definition.

The group defines wisdom - based on mastery of the "fundamental pragmatics of life" - as possessing a superior level of knowledge, judgement and advice.

The study is recruiting adult volunteers to complete a questionnaire consisting of questions assessing factors such as health and spirituality, as well as a series of situation-based questions.

"Wisdom has some overlap with spirituality and with intelligence and we're interested in exploring the overlap and making sure that our measure is somewhat distinct," Professor Knight said.

He said the measure could potentially help psychologists identify ways to help people develop wisdom over the course of their lives.

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