There’s an apparent paradox in modern life: Society as a whole is getting smarter, yet we aren’t any closer to figuring out how to all get along. “How is it possible that we have just as many, if not more, conflicts as before?” asks social psychologist Igor Grossmann at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
The answer is that raw intelligence doesn’t reduce conflict, he asserts. Wisdom does. Such wisdom—in effect, the ability to take the perspectives of others into account and aim for compromise—comes much more naturally to those who grow up poor or working class, according to a new study by Grossman and colleagues.
“This work represents the cutting edge in wisdom research,” says Eranda Jayawickreme, a social psychologist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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