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In the test of wisdom, new research supports Yoda over Spock

A person's ability to reason wisely about a challenging situation may improve when they also experience diverse yet balanced emotions, say researchers from the University of Waterloo.

The finding clarifies millennia of philosophical and psychological thinking that debates how wisdom is related to the effective management of emotionally charged experiences.

Wise reasoning does not necessarily require uniform emotional control or suppression. Instead, wise reasoning can also benefit from a rich and balanced emotional life.

Characteristics of wise reasoning include a sense of humility, recognition of a world in flux, recognition of diverse perspectives on an issue and an openness to integrate them and find compromise.

The researchers focused on emo-diversity, the ability to experience multiple yet evenly balanced emotions. They point out that past research indicated that emo-diversity could reduce clinical psychopathology symptoms by preventing any one emotion from dominating a person's experience.

The researchers conducted six studies employing a wide range of methods that examined emotion-focused reflections by individuals nominated for their wisdom. The tests included manipulated wise reasoning, daily emotional challenges in a broader population, personal reflections on interpersonal conflicts, and wise reasoning about geopolitical challenges.

Uncovering the complex relationship between wise reasoning and emotion is ongoing, with future work unpacking situational factors of emo-diversity and their effects in wise reasoning.


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