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Your Wisdom Could Add Years of Healthy Living

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A simplified seven-item scale developed by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine has been demonstrated to accurately predict a person’s level of wisdom, a potentially modifiable personality attribute that has been proven to have a strong correlation with well-being.

The study’s researchers had previously developed the 28-item San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE-28), which has been used in large national and international studies, biological research and clinical trials to evaluate wisdom.

The SD-WISE-28, a 28-item wisdom scale developed earlier by the team, has been used in major national and international studies, biological research, and therapeutic trials to evaluate wisdom.

However, according to a study published in International Psychogeriatrics, a seven-item variant of the SD-WISE-7 (also known as the Jeste-Thomas Wisdom Index) was comparable and reliable.

“Wisdom measures are increasingly being used to study factors that impact mental health and optimal aging. We wanted to test if a list of only seven items could provide valuable information to test wisdom,” says senior author Dilip V. Jeste. 

Wisdom, according to earlier studies, is comprised of seven components: self-reflection, pro-social behaviors (such as empathy, compassion, and altruism), emotional regulation, acceptance of diverse perspectives, decisiveness, social advising (such as offering rational and helpful advice to others), and spirituality.

Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online crowdsourcing platform, was used to conduct the newest study, which included 2,093 people ranging in age from 20 to 82.

The seven statements, which were chosen from SD-WISE-28, are related to the seven components of wisdom and are assessed on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being strongly disagree and 5 strongly agreeing with the statement. Statements such as “I remain calm under pressure” and “I avoid situations where I know my help will be needed” are examples of these types of statements.

“Shorter doesn’t mean less valid,” says Jeste. “We selected the right type of questions to get important information that not only contributes to the advancement of science but also supports our previous data that wisdom correlates with health and longevity.”  

Additionally, it was discovered that the SD-WISE-7 has a strong and positive correlation with resilience, happiness, and mental well-being, and a strong and negative correlation with loneliness, sadness, and anxiety.

“There are evidence-based interventions to increase levels of specific components of wisdom, which would help reduce loneliness and promote overall well-being,” adds Jeste. 

“Like the COVID-19 vaccine protects us from the novel coronavirus, wisdom can aid in protecting us from loneliness. Thus, we can potentially help end a behavioral pandemic of loneliness, suicides and opioid abuse that has been going on for the last 20 years.”

The next phase will be to conduct genetic, biological, psychological, and cultural studies on a vast number of distinct groups in order to assess wisdom and other characteristics associated with mental, physical, and cognitive health over the lifespan. 

“We need wisdom for surviving and thriving in life. Now, we have a list of questions that take less than a couple of minutes to answer that can be put into clinical practice to try to help individuals,” concludes Jeste. 

Source: 10.1017/S1041610221002684

Image Credit: Getty

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