A route to well-being: Intelligence versus wise reasoning

Igor Grossmann, Jinkyung Na, Michael E.W. Varnum, Shinobu Kitayama, Richard E. Nisbett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

Laypeople and many social scientists assume that superior reasoning abilities lead to greater well-being. However, previous research has been inconclusive. This may be because prior investigators used operationalizations of reasoning that favored analytic as opposed to wise thinking. We assessed wisdom in terms of the degree to which people use various pragmatic schemas to deal with social conflicts. With a random sample of Americans, we found that wise reasoning is associated with greater life satisfaction, less negative affect, better social relationships, less depressive rumination, more positive versus negative words used in speech, and greater longevity. The relationship between wise reasoning and well-being held even when controlling for socioeconomic factors, verbal abilities, and several personality traits. As in prior work, there was no association between intelligence and well-being. Further, wise reasoning mediated age-related differences in well-being, particularly among middle-aged and older adults. Implications for research on reasoning, well-being, and aging are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-953
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume142
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2013

Keywords

  • Affect
  • Aging
  • Intelligence
  • Reasoning
  • Well-being
  • Wisdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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