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

47 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
Pages (from-to)381-394
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


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.

FundersFunder number
Sonia Vintan and Konstantyn Sharpinsky


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


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