In his 2010 book Wisdom, Stephen Hall who is an award-winning writer about science and society, posed the question, “How do we make complex, complicated decisions and life choices, and what makes some of these choices so clearly wise that we all intuitively recognize them as a moment, however brief, of human wisdom?” (p. 6). Hall recounted the story of a scholar who has become a leader in the field of wisdom studies, and who concluded,

that wisdom represented a state of mind beyond standard metrics of intelligence, and this revelation forced him to see inherent failures in the educational system, and the philosophy of educational testing, and the degree to which too narrow measures like IQ tests fail miserably to predict lifetime satisfaction (p. 245).

Hall concluded wisdom is grounded in eight characteristics which are generally ignored in the Standard Model, but that are more important than traditional measures of knowledge when solving complex problems:

  • emotional regulation;
  • knowing what’s important;
  • moral reasoning;
  • compassion;
  • humility;
  • altruism;
  • patience;
  • dealing with uncertainty.


Hall, S. S. (2011). Wisdom: From philosophy to neuroscience. New York: Knopf.