GENERICO.ruScienceAn ambiguous connection between old age and wisdom has been revealed: which comes first?

An ambiguous connection between old age and wisdom has been revealed: which comes first?

Life experience is not enough to gain both

Scientists say that old age does not make you wiser. In stories such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, the wisest character is portrayed as the oldest. But experts say the saying “with age comes wisdom” is not actually true.

Life experience is not enough to gain both

The great poet Oscar Wilde once said: “With age comes wisdom.” But new research suggests that may not be true – at least not in the real world, writes the Daily Mail.

Dr. Judith Gluck, a psychologist at the University of Klagenfurt in Austria, reviewed previous studies linking age to wisdom. She concluded that “the statistical relationship between wisdom and chronological age is not strong,” despite common assumptions and portrayals in popular culture. Whether it's Gandalf from “The Lord of the Rings”, Professor Dumbledore from “Harry Potter” or Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, wise characters in films are often very old, notes the Daily Mail.

While wisdom can and often does come with age, aging alone is not enough to make you wiser. notes Dr. Gluck.

Popular culture portrays old people as wise, but the question of what exactly leads to wisdom is much more nuanced, according to her review.

“Neither aging nor the accumulation of life experience is enough to become wise,” Dr. Gluck emphasizes in his article published in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology. – Although many people associate wisdom with old age, becoming wise clearly requires more than ”just" grow old.”

Dr. Gluck argues that “there is no universal trajectory for the development of wisdom.” – in other words, people around the world don't just automatically become wise over time. “Life experience,” not time, leads to the development of wisdom, but this is not unique to older people.

“Whether people grow toward wisdom and how much depends on individual combinations of life experiences and intrapersonal and interpersonal resources,” she says. – Accumulated life experience is an important basis for wisdom, but not all wise people are old, and many older people are not particularly wise.”

How people reflect on life experiences and what they learn from them may be more important to the development of wisdom than the experience itself. According to the review, characteristics of wisdom include compassion (the ability to empathize with someone who is suffering) and “self-transcendence,” described as “blurring personal boundaries.” in a spiritual sense.

Wisdom is also “a resource for solving problems such as loneliness,” especially in adulthood, says Dr. Gluck. But wisdom may even decline with age because “some of its components decline,” such as the ability to understand complex problems or regulate emotions in stressful situations.

In addition, the role and relevance of resources such as openness, compassion and emotion regulation, which are necessary for wisdom, “may change with age.”

The aforementioned Oscar Wilde also said that “sometimes age comes of itself.” on its own,” without wisdom, and a new review suggests that this is a more accurate statement.  

Other experts said that the proverb “with age comes wisdom” is not true, despite the popular public image of a wise old man or woman.

For example, research conducted by Dr. Carolyn Aldwin of Oregon State University found that hardship, not old age, is most likely to lead to wisdom . So, if you haven't faced challenges in your life, you're less likely to gain wisdom as you age.

However, several studies have shown that age comes with wisdom; for example, a 2013 study from the University of California, Riverside found that older adults were more patient and better educated about financial matters.

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