University of Klagenfurt, Austria
Judith Glück is Professor of Developmental Psychology at Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt, Austria. She received her diploma (1995, MA-equivalent), doctorate (1999, PhD-equivalent), and Venia legendi (2001, tenure) in Psychology at the University of Vienna, Austria, and then moved to Klagenfurt in 2007. After completing her dissertation, she spent three years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Human Development in Berlin, where she worked with Paul B. Baltes. Currently, she is head of a research-focused lifespan developmental psychology department. The main focus of her current work is wisdom, including how wisdom develops in the course of individual lives, how wisdom could be measured in an ecologically valid way, gender differences in the development and manifestation of wisdom, and ways to foster wisdom. Her research has been funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF and the European Commission. She has published in international journals including Psychology and Aging and Memory & Cognition. In 2005, she received the City of Vienna Scientist Award.
Wisdom and the Life Story: How Life Experiences Foster Wisdom
Why do certain individuals develop high levels of wisdom in the course of their lives, while others do not? What is the role of life events and challenges in the development of wisdom? Understanding how wisdom emerges in individuals’ lives is critical for refining scholarly theories, but also lays the foundation for engendering wisdom through intervention in educational, healthcare, and business settings. Surprisingly, hardly any empirical studies have investigated how wisdom develops through the challenges one faces as part of the human experience. The current project is the first psychological study of the development of wisdom in the context of individual lives. The theoretical foundation of the study is the MORE Wisdom model that Judith Glück and her collaborator Susan Bluck have derived from a review of the literature on wisdom and related fields such as growth from negative experiences. In short, the model proposes that four personal resources interact with challenging life experience to foster the emergence of wisdom: a sense of Mastery, Openness to experience, a Reflective attitude, and Emotion regulation skills. Wise individuals approach their individual life challenges with higher levels of these resources, and through dealing with challenges wisely, the resources and wisdom itself are developed further. In order to test the MORE Wisdom model empirically, forty individuals will be recruited who fulfill high standards of wisdom; they are nominated by others as wise and score high on standard measures of wisdom. They will be compared to forty age- and gender-matched control participants who perform in the typical range for their age group in wisdom measures. All participants will complete scales measuring the four personal resources and participate in a structured Life Challenges Interview which includes open accounts, specific questions, and rating scales concerning the most important challenges in participants’ lives. Interviews are transcribed and content analyzed. Wise participants are expected to show higher levels of the four MORE resources than control participants in how they describe life challenges, how they have dealt with them, and how they have integrated them in their life stories.
Doctoral student Uwe Redzanowski was hired to help conduct the project in cooperation with a second project entitled, “The Development and Manifestation of Wisdom”, funded by the Austrian research fund, in which two more doctoral students are working. Thus far, scales for assessing (a) most important life events, (b) MORE resources, (c) wisdom (Ardelt, Webster, Levenson scales), and (d) important predictors (intelligence) have been selected and, if necessary, translated into German. A first call for wisdom nomination was issued in the fall of 2008; a second call is being prepared. Those nominators who responded to the first call are being interviewed by telephone about their reasons for nomination and characteristics of the nominee. In preparation for life-story interviews with wisdom nominees, a pilot study of the interview manual is being conducted with elderly individuals (not nominated for wisdom). Recruitment of the control group is still in progress.
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