Making Things Better and Learning a Lesson: Experiencing Wisdom Across the Lifespan (Bluck & Gluck, 2004)

Susan Bluck and Judith Gluck are longtime collaborators in the field of lifespan psychology. In this paper, they show how people view wisdom as a resource for transforming negative events into more positive outcomes. People also claim such wisdom-experiences often influence their life paths and also lead to the learning of valuable life lessons.

Abstract: Autobiographical memory narratives concerning times in which individuals said, thought, or did something wise were collected from adolescents and young and old adults. This ‘‘wisdom of experience’’ procedure is shown to be a valid means of studying experienced wisdom in everyday lives across the life span. Results show that all age groups use experienced wisdom to transform negative to positive life situations and are equally likely to link these experienced wisdom events to larger temporal life periods. Young and older adults also relate wisdom experiences to the life story by explaining how they are connected to later life consequences or to the direction that their life has taken. Unlike adolescents, older and, especially, young adults report having learned lessons about themselves or having gained a life philosophy from the wisdom-related event. Thus, the wisdom-of-experience procedure highlights both similarities and differences in the life span manifestation of experienced wisdom.

Click here to read the original paper

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