People Who Value Virtue Show Wiser Reasoning

Everyone may struggle to reason wisely about their own personal problems.


Problems are part of life. In fact, in some way, they are life. The fact, we are better at offering the better solution to others than solving our problems. It’s because we see our problem via a personal flawed, emotional lens.

According to a new study, everyone may struggle to reason wisely about their own personal problems. Individuals who are spurred to build up the best in themselves as well as other people don’t demonstrate this predisposition, they tend to reason similarly as carefully about their own particular issues as they improve the situation others.

Psychological scientist Alex Huynh of the University of Waterloo said, “Our findings suggest that people who value virtue motives may be able to reason wisely for themselves and overcome personal biases observed in previous research. This is in part due to their ability to recognize that their perspectives may not be enough to fully understand a situation, a concept referred to as intellectual humility.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first research that empirically ties this conceptualization of virtue with wisdom, a connection that philosophers have been making for over two millennia. These findings open up new avenues for future research to investigate how to increase a person’s level of wisdom.”

To further determine the connection between personal ideals and reasoning, scientists employed 267 university students. They randomly assigned to think about different situations. They then motivated participants to pursue virtue by rating their agreement with specific statements. The statement involves I would like to contribute to others or the surrounding world’ and ‘I would like to do what I believe in’.

Participants reported how useful different wise reasoning strategies would be in addressing the conflict in question. Those who thought about a friend’s dilemma considered wiser strategies to be more useful. And participants who thought about their personal issues rated wise-reasoning strategies as more valuable.

During another study with 356 participants, scientists found the same results patterns.

Huynh said, “Everyone is susceptible to becoming too invested in their own perspectives, but this doesn’t have to be the case for everybody. As these findings suggest, your own personality and motivational orientation can influence your ability to approach your personal problems in a calmer, wiser manner.”

Now, scientists are further testing this study to analyze whether training people to value virtuous motives—i.e., to focus on their personal ideas and contributing to others.

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