In America, Age Brings Wisdom. But Not in Japan.

Researchers have found that Americans get wiser as they age while Japanese seem to begin wise. More interesting still is that the two groups exhibited different kinds of wisdom. 

What's the Latest Development?


A psychological study of Americans and Japanese found that, for Americans, wisdom increases with age, while Japanese seem wise from the age of 25. In the study, newspaper articles describing a conflict between two groups, such as a poor Pacific island and an adventurous oil company, were given to individuals of each nationality. Each person's analysis of the conflict was then evaluated according to the five crucial aspects of wise reasoning: "Willingness to seek opportunities to resolve conflict; willingness to search for compromise; recognition of the limits of personal knowledge; awareness that more than one perspective on a problem can exist; and appreciation of the fact that things may get worse before they get better."

What's the Big Idea?

While the Americans' wisdom quotient increased over time, from 45 to 55 between the ages of 25 and 79, the Japanese score hardly varied with age. Surprisingly, though Americans have a more individualistic society, the Japanese subjects demonstrated a higher degree of interpersonal knowledge. "Americans, by contrast—at least in the maturity of old age—have more intergroup wisdom than the purportedly collectivist Japanese." The findings demonstrate that individual skills may be more necessary in a collective society, and that collective skills are more needed in an individualistic one.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


Personal Growth

The life choices that had led me to be sitting in a booth underneath a banner that read “Ask a Philosopher" – at the entrance to the New York City subway at 57th and 8th – were perhaps random but inevitable.

Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: the rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

'Self is not entirely lost in dementia,' argues new review

The assumption "that without memory, there can be no self" is wrong, say researchers.

Photo credit: Darren Hauck / Getty Images
Mind & Brain

In the past when scholars have reflected on the psychological impact of dementia they have frequently referred to the loss of the "self" in dramatic and devastating terms, using language such as the "unbecoming of the self" or the "disintegration" of the self. In a new review released as a preprint at PsyArXiv, an international team of psychologists led by Muireann Irish at the University of Sydney challenge this bleak picture which they attribute to the common, but mistaken, assumption "that without memory, there can be no self" (as encapsulated by the line from Hume: "Memory alone… 'tis to be considered… as the source of personal identity").

Keep reading Show less