Journal of Adult Development

, 4:1

First online:

Practical and transcendent wisdom: Their nature and some longitudinal findings

  • Paul WinkAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Wellesley College
  • , Ravenna HelsonAffiliated withInstitute of Personality and Social Research University of California at Berkeley

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A self-report Adjective Check List (ACL) Practical Wisdom Scale (PWS) and external ratings of Transcendent Wisdom (TWR), based on subjects' examples of personally important wisdom, were used to study the personality correlates and life implications of two types of wisdom among participants in their 50s in a longitudinal study of women. High scorers on both the PWS and the TWR were cognitively complex, perceptive, insightful, and healthily self-directed. Only the PWS was associated with social initiative and leadership, empathy, and generativity. Only the TWR correlated with openness to experience, intuition, and creativity. ACL data from young adulthood were used to show that both the women and their spouses increased on the PWS from early to mature adulthood. For women, we demonstrated how occupation (psychotherapy) and traumatic life events (divorce) contributed to these agerelated gains.

Key Words

Wisdom adult development personality longitudinal research