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The Emerging Empirical Science of Wisdom: Definition, Measurement, Neurobiology, Longevity, and Interventions.

  • Author(s): Jeste, Dilip V
  • Lee, Ellen E
  • et al.

Learning objectives

After participating in this activity, learners should be better able to:• Assess the empirical literature on wisdom• Evaluate a proposed model of wisdom development ABSTRACT: This article seeks to provide an overview of the empirical literature on wisdom in terms of its definitions and measurements, possible neurobiological basis, and evolutionary value, as well as changes with aging and potential clinical interventions to enhance components of wisdom. Wisdom may be defined as a complex human trait with several specific components: social decision making, emotion regulation, prosocial behaviors, self-reflection, acceptance of uncertainty, decisiveness, and spirituality. These components appear to be localized primarily to the prefrontal cortex and limbic striatum. Emerging research suggests that wisdom is linked to better overall health, well-being, happiness, life satisfaction, and resilience. Wisdom likely increases with age, facilitating a possible evolutionary role of wise grandparents in promoting the fitness of the species. Despite the loss of their own fertility and physical health, older adults help enhance their children's well-being, health, longevity, and fertility-the "Grandma Hypothesis" of wisdom. We propose a model of wisdom development that incorporates genetic, environmental, and evolutionary aspects. Wisdom has important implications at both individual and societal levels, and warrants further research as a major contributor to human thriving. There is a need for a greater emphasis on promoting wisdom through our educational systems from elementary to professional schools.

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