Are Older Adults Wiser than the Younger Population? by Shelby Spies


           Wisdom has always been associated with aging and that older adults are more wiser.  Wisdom involves the ability to understand life and deeper meaning of events that relate to interpersonal life.  Throughout this research paper the three dimensional wisdom scale (3D- WS) is used, which involves 39 items of 14 for cognitive dimensions, 12 for the reflective dimension and 13 for the affective dimension ( Thomas, Bangen, Ardelt,  & Jeste, 2017).  In this paper the following stereotype will be discussed which is that older adults are more wiser due to them aging.

               In the article Are Older Adults Wiser Than College Students? A Comparison of Two Age Cohorts, the purpose of the study was to see if older adults are wiser than college students, if older adults with a college education are wiser than current college students, and if older adults demonstrate personal growth with their wisdom.  The participants in the study involve a selection of 477 undergraduate college students and 178 older adults consisting of the age of fifty-two or older (Ardelt, 2010).  The method of selecting the college students was at the beginning of fall and spring semester of 2005 and 2006 at a public university in North-Central Florida, where students were offered one extra credit point to participate in an anonymous survey on attitudes, behavior, and general well being ( Ardelt, 2010).  The method of selecting the older adults was from a stratified sample selected on race, gender, and socioeconomic statues, participated in the 3D- WS survey (Ardelt, 2010).  The result and conclusion of the study was college students tend to score higher on the self- administered, but college educated older adults scored extremely higher in reflective and affective dimension ( Ardelt, 2010).  Also, the results indicates that wisdom might increase with age for individuals with the opportunity and motivation to seek growth in development ( Ardelt, 2010).  I think this study is inconclusive when either supporting or refuting the stereotype argument of older adults being more wiser than others.  Moreover, due to the fact that the result of the experiment states “that wisdom might increase with age” if one decides to further their growth and experience new things in their lives ( Ardelt, 2010).  I believe you could make the argument that stereotype is supported because wisdom does increase with age because one has experienced a lot over a life time.  However, I think the same argument could be made that it refutes the stereotypes because one has to continue to experience and try knew thing in their life which can happen at any age in one’s life.

              In the article Development of a 12-Item Abbreviate Three-Dimensional Wisdom Scale (3D-WS-12): Item Selection and Psychometric Properties, the purpose of the study was to measure adults wisdom with a smaller version of the 3D-WS consisting of twelve items due to the fact that the original 3D-WS can forbid usage ( Thomas et al., 2017).  The participants were in a 1,546 intentional community consisting of the middle-aged and older adults that involved oversampling through random digit dialing allowing only one participant to be enlisted from each household ( Thomas et al., 2017).  The average age of participants was sixty-six and caucasian ( Thomas et al., 2017).  The method of the study was through a survey of  the 3D-WS 12, which includes the mental health and well being of the participant.  The result of the study is that 3D-WS-12 is a more efficient way to test people who have a hard time focusing on a specific task or who get exhausted more easily with a survey (Thomas et al., 2017).  The conclusion for the study was that wisdom is measured by the statues of someone mental health and ones’ reflection on life experiences, not a direct correlation to age ( Thomas et al., 2017).  This article refutes the stereotype that older adults are very wise because the results of the study came to the conclusion that age does not have an impact on wisdom, but wisdom is gained by the way one reflects on their life and growth from their experiences.  I believe that wisdom is gained through taking risks and learning from one’s mistakes, and that their is no age limit for the knowledge of wisdom.

                In the article Exploring Solomon’s Paradox: Self-Distancing Eliminates the Self-Other Asymmetry in Wise Reasoning About Close Relationships in Younger and Older Adults, the purpose of this study was to see if self-distancing contributes more to wise reasoning of personal conflict and if age has a direct effect (Grossmann & Kross, 2014).  The participants of the study aged between the range of twenty and forty adults compared to sixty and eighty adults who were in long-term relationships either romantic or serious friendships ( Grossmann  & Kross, 2014).  The young adults were selected randomly at the University of Michigan and the older adults were also selected randomly in the Michigan area (Grossmann & Kross, 2014).  The method study consisted over three experiments and is a longitude observation, involving the participants conducting an in person interview regarding questions about situations that would need advice toward themselves and toward other people that they had close relationships with ( Grossmann  & Kross,  2014).  For example, one of the questions was regarding a situation where their romantic partner cheated on them or if their best friend’s romantic partner cheated on them ( Grossmann & Kross, 2014).  The participant wisdom would then be tested to see how ones would react toward themselves or their friends or someone close to them ( Grossmann & Kross, 2014).  The result of the study is that there are not age differences in wise reasoning about with personal conflict and self-distancing is a character to wise reasoning ( Grossmann &  Kross, 2014). This article refutes the stereotype of older adults are wiser with the effect of age because the way one can deal with self conflict poorly or positively at any age.  As well as, when self-distancing and giving advice to others is based off the relationship you have toward that person and is influenced on the way you would personally handle the situation.  Wisdom can be gained at any age through multiple experiences if one is willing to grow through development.

                In the article Older, Wiser, and Happier? Comparing older adults’ and college students’ self-defining memories, the purpose of this study was to compare older adults and college students’ self-define memories and to see how these memorize contribute to wisdom and happiness (Singer, Rexhaj, & Baddeley, 2007).  The participants of the study consists of forty-nine undergraduate students ranging between the ages of seventeen and twenty two, who were registered for psychology at a small liberal art college in north east of the U.S.  ( Singer et al., 2007).  The older adults were alumni at the same liberal arts college who were fifty or older, which involved a total of thirty alumni (Singer et al., 2007).  The method of the study was the participants of the younger adults and older adults were matched with similarities through a survey (Singer et al., 2007).  As well as, conducted an in person interview to explain their most vivid memories and what they meant to them ( Singer et al., 2007).  The result of the study was older adults’ self-defining memories verse college students overall had more of a positive tone, less descriptive and more of a summary, and more likely to include integrative significance (Singer et al., 2007).  The conclusions of the study that older adults have more of a narrative identity, therefore could potentially be more wiser (Singer et al., 2007).  The article does support the stereotype of older adults being more wise do to their age and being able to have a clearer identity.  I think this article should study adults between the ages of twenty-five or older due to the fact that they were primarily focusing on identity which during young adulthood many people are searching for their identity.  As well as, I think self-defining memorize change all the time due to fact that we change all the time.  Overall, I disagree with the article stating that wisdom is developed through age, but I think wisdom is develops through life experiences.

               In conclusion, older adults are not more wiser due to their age, but can potentially be wiser with their personal experiences.  However, at any age any person can be wise if they are willing to try new things in their lives and be able to reflect on their life decisions.  All in all,  wisdom is gained through acknowledge of oneself and to be able understand the meaning of decisions in one’s own life.


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