Looking Beyond Linear: A Closer Examination of the Relationship Between Wisdom and Wellbeing
journal contributionposted on 2022-12-01, 19:29 authored by Judith Glück, Nicholas WeststrateNicholas Weststrate, Andreas Scherpf
There has been some controversy about the relationship between wisdom and constructs of the well-being complex. Some wisdom researchers argue that the ability to maintain a high level of well-being, even in the face of very negative experiences, is a core characteristic of wisdom. Other researchers argue that the willingness of wise people to reflect on the darker sides of life might jeopardize well-being. Studies mostly found moderate positive correlations of well-being with self-report wisdom measures and negative, zero, or low positive correlations with open-ended measures of wisdom. This paper tests the hypothesis that the relationship between wisdom and well-being is triangular rather than linear, with highly wise people being high in well-being, but people high in well-being not necessarily being highly wise. A sample of 155 participants (age 23 to 90 years) completed four wisdom measures and three measures from the well-being complex. We analyzed both linear relationships (using correlations) and triangular relationships (using Necessary Condition Analysis). Correlations of well-being with open-ended measures of wisdom were mostly insignificant; correlations with self-report measures of wisdom were mostly significant. However, scatterplots showed the expected triangular relationships and Necessary Condition Analysis indicated medium to large effect sizes for both open-ended and self-report wisdom measures. In sum, our findings show that even if wise individuals think more deeply about difficult aspects of the human existence, they are still able to maintain high levels of well-being.