What Does It Mean to Be Wise?

Columbia Public Health Aging Expert Defines Personal Wisdom

Ursula M. Staudinger,

 PhD, a lifespan psychologist at the Mailman School of Public Health, is an internationally known aging researcher. She is also co-founder of the Berlin Wisdom Project, which sought to define wisdom in the 1980s.

Recently, Staundinger shared her thoughts on personal wisdom in the New York Times.

From her website:

[In a New York Times article by Phyllis Korkki ], Ursula Staundinger makes a distinction between general wisdom (understanding life from an observer’s perspective) and personal wisdom (insight into one’s own life). Her model of personal wisdom includes five elements (e.g., self-insight, awareness of life’s ambiguities). Professor Staudinger’s studies have shown that wisdom in this sense is rarely found in people. Also, wisdom actually declines in the final decades. While many people tend to develop a coping strategy in old age and look back on their lives in a more positive light, a wise person in contrast would acknowledge failures and losses, and still try to improve.

Tomorrow night, Dr. Staundinger will deliver a lecture on the "Potentials and Challenges of Aging" as part of a new lecture series sponsored by the Mortinmer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

For more information, click here.