Study: Intellectually Humble People Tend To Be More Knowledgeable

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New research suggests a correlation between humility and general cognitive ability.

According to a recently published studyrecently published studyrecently published study in The Journal of Positive Psychology, intellectually humble people tend to score higher on tests of general knowledge than their not-so-humble counterparts. The new results give researchers insights on the links between intellectual humility and the ability to acquire knowledge, PsyPost reports.

“It has been interesting to me to observe how people think about intellectual humility and related concepts, said Pepperdine University associate professor of psychology and study author Elizabeth J. Krumrei-Mancuso. When it comes to beliefs, people tend to appreciate others being open-minded, yet they may also view people who are unsure about their beliefs as weak or they may view those who change their viewpoint as unstable or manipulative.”

She continued, “These social perceptions might make people afraid to admit the fallibility in their thinking. They may believe they should be confident in their viewpoints, which can lead people to be afraid to change their minds.

“This research was motivated out of a desire to understand the potential value of intellectual humility. Does it benefit us to recognize our intellectual fallibility? And if so, in what ways?”

Krumrei-Mancuso and colleagues performed five studies with almost 1,200 total participants. The first concluded that people who scored low on a test of intellectual humility tended to overestimate their ability to perform well on tests of a variety of cognitive functions. Another one of the studies concluded that humble people are more motivated to learn regardless of the presence of external rewards such as school grades. They were also more willing to change perspectives when considering evidence that goes against their beliefs.

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