Training for Wisdom: The Distanced-Self-Reflection Diary Method

Igor Grossmann, Anna Dorfman, Harrison Oakes, Henri C. Santos, Kathleen D. Vohs, Abigail A. Scholer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


How can people wisely navigate social conflict? Two preregistered longitudinal experiments (Study 1: Canadian adults; Study 2: American and Canadian adults; total N = 555) tested whether encouraging distanced (i.e., third-person) self-reflection would help promote wisdom. Both experiments measured wise reasoning (i.e., intellectual humility, open-mindedness about how situations could unfold, consideration of and attempts to integrate diverse viewpoints) about challenging interpersonal events. In a month-long experiment (Study 1), participants used either a third- or first-person perspective in diary reflections on each day’s most significant experience. Compared with preintervention assessments, assessments made after the intervention revealed that participants reflecting in the third person showed a significant increase in wise reasoning about interpersonal challenges. These effects were statistically accounted for by shifts in diary-based reflections toward a broader self-focus. A week-long experiment (Study 2) replicated the third-person self-reflection effect on wise reasoning (vs. first-person and no-pronoun control conditions). These findings suggest an efficient and evidence-based method for fostering wise reasoning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-394
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Takuya Shibayuma, Nadine Bolineu, Mane Kara-Yakoubian, Oliver Twardus, and Tianrong Sun provided valuable assistance with qualitative coding, and Sonia Vintan and Konstantyn Sharpinsky provided assistance with data-integrity cross-validation.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • intellectual humility
  • intervention
  • open data
  • open materials
  • perspective-taking
  • preregistered
  • reasoning
  • wisdom

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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