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A nomination approach to the study of wisdom in old age

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A nomination approach to the study of wisdom in old age

Lyster, Tracy Lynn (1996) A nomination approach to the study of wisdom in old age. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to contribute to the development of the wisdom construct in psychology by relating wisdom to standard measures of functioning. Six hypotheses which concerned the cognitive and emotional development of wise people, their personality structure, life experiences, control beliefs and gender identity were tested by conducting structured interviews with 78 community dwelling men and women, aged 55 and over, who had been nominated for their wisdom by their peers. The nominators and 22 participants who nominated themselves as wise functioned as comparison groups. Measures of personality, intelligence, emotional awareness, paradigm beliefs, control beliefs, coping style, and life satisfaction were collected. Three questions from a videotaped structured qualitative interview were rated in terms of 5 theoretical criteria (Smith & Baltes, 1990): (1) factual knowledge; (2) procedural knowledge; (3) life-span contextualism; (4) relativism; (5) awareness of uncertainty. Two additional criteria, (6) generativity and (7) affect-cognitive integration were included to assess the character of wise people. Statistical analyses revealed that people with higher wisdom scores tended to be better educated, had higher emotional complexity of the self, were less absolute and more dialectical in terms of their paradigm beliefs, tended to be more intelligent and more open, coped with sadness with more reflection and less avoidance, endorsed fewer internal control beliefs, and were less dissatisfied with their lives than participants with lower wisdom scores. Participants nominated by others received higher wisdom ratings than those who were self referred. There was no gender difference in wisdom scores after controlling for education. Further qualitative analyses examined the depth and breadth of the wise perspective and presented a model of wisdom as developing through a dynamic interplay between openness and critical reflection. It was concluded that peer nominations can be used to increase the probability of identifying wise people and that wisdom appears to involve a combination of developmental and individual difference variables. Although there was a trend for lower wisdom scores with age, some of the oldest participants were among the top respondents lending support to the view that wisdom can serve as a prototype of intellectual competency in old age

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Lyster, Tracy Lynn
Pagination:x, 273 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:Psychology
Date:1996
Thesis Supervisor(s):Gold, Dolores Puskar
ID Code:262
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:10
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:13
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