Paul Wink and Ursula M. Staudinger

Journal of Personality, 2015


We investigated the connection between wisdom-related performance, personality, and generativity to further the understanding of how they are interrelated. Our sample consisted of 163 men and women 68–77 years of age, mostly White, and predominantly middle class.Wisdom was assessed with the performance-based Berlin Wisdom Paradigm, with the remaining measures being mostly self-report.As hypothesized, on the zero-order level, wisdom-related performance (WRP) was positively associated with (a) growth, a personality component indexed by Openness to Experience, psychological mindedness, and a sense of well-being derived from growth, purpose in life, and autonomy; (b) adjustment, a personality component associated with life satisfaction, high levels of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, low Neuroticism, a sense of well-being derived from positive relations with others, self-acceptance, and environmental mastery; and (c) a generative concern for the welfare of others. Latent path analysis indicated that the bivariate associations between adjustment and wisdom and between generativity and wisdom were mediated by growth. Wise individuals are characterized by their ability to balance different personal strengths and interests, an integration that occurs, however, within the context of a dominant personality style marked by the pursuit of maturity through personal growth.

View the paper hereWisdom and Psychosocial Functioning in Later Life