Men score more on cognitive-related things and emotional control, while women score higher on compassion-related items and self-reflection.
Researchers used two validated measures to look at gender differences in wisdom and found that women scored higher on compassion-related questions and self-reflection, while males scored better on cognitive-related items and emotional control.
Wisdom is a personality quality that has been linked to mental health and well-being in previous research. Researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine used two validated instruments to look at gender variations in wisdom.
The research, which will be published in the online edition of Frontiers in Psychology on February 3, 2022, looked at gender variations in wisdom and related categories including despair, loneliness, well-being, optimism, and resilience.
Six hundred and fifty-nine community members, ranging in age from 27 to 103, took part in the research and completed both the SD-WISE and the 3-Dimensional Wisdom Scale (3D-WS).
The SD-WISE has 24 measures that are divided into six categories: pro-social behaviors (empathy and compassion), emotional regulation, self-reflection, acceptance of ambiguity and variety of viewpoints, decisiveness, and social advice. The 3D-WS consists of 39 measures that span three aspects of wisdom: cognitive, emotional or compassionate, and reflective wisdom.
Women scored higher on compassion-related questions and self-reflection, while males scored better on cognitive-related things and emotional control, according to the study. The overall 3-D-WS score was greater in women than in men in general, but there was no gender difference in the total SD-WISE score.
Wisdom was linked to higher levels of mental well-being, optimism, and resilience in both men and women, as well as lower levels of despair and loneliness.
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, said, “We wanted to gain information on potential differences in wisdom between men and women that could impact well-being.” “We discovered that women and men have distinct relative wisdom strengths, which are presumably influenced by both societal and biological factors.”
“Our most recent discoveries are simply a part of the bigger picture. There are a number of ways to live a sensible life. People approach wisdom in different ways, and one way to assess those potential differences is to look at gender “The study’s first author, Emily Treichler, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and a research psychologist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System’s Desert Pacific Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC).
“Individuals and society both benefit from having a greater knowledge of wisdom and how to increase it. Other research has shown that proper psycho-social and behavioral treatments may boost levels of wisdom components like empathy/compassion and emotional control. Studies like ours may be able to assist customize wisdom therapies to particular persons depending on their traits.”
The researchers point out that the study had certain limitations: Instead of being longitudinal, it was cross-sectional. It also didn’t look at non-binary individuals’s wisdom profiles or ask them whether they identify as transgender, which should be one of the next stages.
“More study is needed, but we can use what we’ve learned to future research to make the findings accessible to diverse populations, with the ultimate objective of encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles,” Jeste said.
Tsung-Chin Wu and Xin Tu of UC San Diego; Barton Palmer, Rebecca Daly, and Ellen Lee of UC San Diego, VA San Diego Healthcare System, and VA Desert Pacific Mental Illness, Research, Education, and Clinical Center; and Michael Thomas of Colorado State University were among the co-authors.