Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Words from the Wise: Exploring the Lives, Qualities, and Opinions of Wisdom Exemplars

Drew Krafcik

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to study exemplars of wisdom through a structured, theoretically grounded peer-nomination process. Twenty exemplars were given a variety of quantitative measures that included the Self-Assessed Wisdom Scale (SAWS), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10), Spiritual Perspective Scale (SPS), Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), Loyola Generativity Scale (LGS), Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), Narcissistic Personality Inventory-16 (NPI-16), Humility Inventory (HI), Big Five Inventory (BFI), and the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT). Exemplars also underwent lengthy semi-structured interviews to assess their lives, qualities, and understanding of wisdom. Interviews were analyzed for their significant themes. Results of this study suggest that exemplars of wisdom are humble, spiritual, mindful, insightful, tell the truth, and are open to experiences. They have meaningful, long-term relationships with mentors and loved ones. Exemplars are deeply influential in the lives of others and have very high life satisfaction. The 2 predominant definitions of wisdom given by exemplars were that wisdom is practical and comes from the unknown. Exemplars offered multiple strategies for the cultivation of wisdom-related processes, primarily the relationship with a mentor. Future research may clarify an emerging relationship between transcendent and practical wisdom.

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