Saturday, May 26, 2012

Does Older Mean Wiser?

Generally speaking, older means wiser.

We assume that wisdom comes with age and experience. The older you get the wiser you become.

Or so it seems.

A recent study by Canadian psychologist Igor Grossmann suggests that American young people get a lot wiser as they age, because they have so much to learn.

By contrast, Japanese young people are wise beyond their years. They are much wiser than their American counterparts. Thus, they learn less as they grow older because they have less to learn.

This may be the result of our American way of parenting. Having chosen to make our children into monsters of self-esteem, we should not be surprised to learn that they lack wisdom... that is, a judicious temperament and a spirit of cooperative enterprise..

Children whose self-esteem has been puffed up beyond recognition become reckless, foolhardy, emotionally incontinent, and slothful.

That is, they become chronically and habitually unwise.

Of course, it helps to know how the psychologists define wisdom. Happily enough, they define it in terms of good character.

The Economist summarizes the standard psychologist definition of wisdom, as follows:

…psychologists consider five crucial aspects of wise reasoning: willingness to seek opportunities to resolve conflict; willingness to search for compromise; recognition of the limits of personal knowledge; awareness that more than one perspective on a problem can exist; and appreciation of the fact that things may get worse before they get better.

That’s as good a definition of wisdom and character as I have seen in quite some time. After asking yourself whether the educational system is teaching these values, you should also ask whether they serve as the guideline for therapists. 


Dennis said...

None of this seems to speak well for the Left, some on the right and the Obama administration.

JP said...

These are the same Japanese who are driving their population to zero through the magic of not having children?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Good point, JP.

Americans are having children, but some groups of Americans are having more children than others... are these wisest young Americans?

JP said...

The Duggars don't seem to be that bad.

Granted, I think that 19 kids is too many, but they seem like nice people.

Good business model.