Six hundred and fifty-nine community-based participants, aged 27 to 103 years, participated in the study and completed both the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) and the 3-Dimensional Wisdom Scale (3D-WS).
The SD-WISE includes 24 items related to six defined components of wisdom: pro-social behaviors (empathy and compassion), emotional regulation, self-reflection, acceptance of uncertainty and diversity of perspectives, decisiveness, and social advising.
The 3D-WS contains 39 items covering three dimensions of wisdom: cognitive, affective or compassionate/and reflective.
Researchers found that the total 3-D-WS score was higher in women than in men, but there was no gender difference in the total score on the SD-WISE.
In both women and men, wisdom was associated with greater mental well-being, optimism, and resilience and lower levels of depression and loneliness.
Women scored higher on compassion-related items and on self-reflection while men scored higher on cognitive-related items and on emotional regulation.
“We wanted to gain information on potential differences in wisdom between men and women that could impact the well-being,” said senior author Dilip V. Jeste, MD, senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Having a better understanding of wisdom and how to improve it has health benefits and value for individuals and society.
Other studies have shown that the levels of certain components of wisdom like empathy/compassion and emotional regulation can be increased with appropriate psychosocial and behavioral interventions.
These new study findings may help tailor wisdom interventions to individuals based on specific characteristics.
Researchers emphasize there were limitations of the study: It was cross-sectional rather than longitudinal. And it did not look at wisdom profiles of non-binary people or ask people whether they identify as transgender, and that should be one of the next steps.
More work needs to be done, and apply it to future studies to make the results applicable to different groups, with the ultimate goal of promoting healthier lives.