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Wisdom - Psychological Approaches To The Definition Of Wisdom

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Among one the major reasons for the emergence of the psychological study of wisdom in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the search for positive aspects of aging. An early approach to defining wisdom from a psychological perspective can be seen in its treatment in dictionaries. The Oxford English Dictionary defines wisdom as, ‘‘Good judgment and advice in difficult and uncertain matters of life.’’

In a next step, psychologists further specified the content and formal properties of wisdom-related phenomena. In 1922, Stanley Hall associated wisdom with the emergence of a meditative attitude, philosophic calmness, impartiality, and the desire to draw moral lessons, all of which tend to emerge in later adulthood. Furthermore, writers emphasized that wisdom involves the search for the moderate course between extremes, a dynamic between knowledge and doubt, a sufficient detachment from the problem at hand, and a well-balanced coordination of emotion, motivation, and thought (see Kramer, 2000).

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