mental capacities and experience. How to measure wisdom? Scientists from San Diego suggest using a
neurobiological test – San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) for this purpose.
One of the most popular intelligence tests is an IQ test, but the assessment of the level of wisdom
was restricted to the use of some psychosocial tests. Journal of Psychiatric Research published key observations of the scientists from San Diego who developed a scale for assessing wisdom based on common domains and a neurobiological model. SD-WISE is based on identifying the activity of certain brain areas and behavioral reactions.
To assess the level of wisdom the scientists used indicators related to different lobes of the brain,
pragmatic approach and social decisions;
resistance (tolerance) to values of other people;
harmony with your internal world, self-reflection;
ability to act under uncertainty; and
type of social behavior, and presence of appropriate beliefs (altruism, empathy).
The research involved over 500 volunteers from San Diego (aged 25–104). To obtain reliable data
the participants initially passed two proven tests identifying the level of wisdom after which they were
assessed according to the SD-WISE scale.
The participants replied to 24 questions which included sets of beliefs. They rated the statements
on the scale from 1 to 5 according to the degree of their agreement. As a result, 5 indicators were
measured. These data allowed assessing the participants’ ability for self-reflection and decision-making in
vulnerable situations, identifying their self-esteem and relations with the society members having other
beliefs. Only social decisions allowed for partial measurement.
The conducted work proved efficiency of SD-WISE. It was found that wisdom is another
neurophysiological function that may be measured and studies, and it is based on a different operating
speed of certain brain lobes (the prefrontal cortex, limbic system and the amygdala) in some life situations.It was also found that wisdom depends neither on the gender or education. The age and the level of personal happiness have a positive effect on wisdom, whereas depression and a high level of anxiety have an adverse effect.
Scientists plan to conduct more extensive studies: they will involve participants who are different
by their social factors, ethnic origin and cultural values. The obtained results could be used in clinical
practice and experiments on activation of brain areas responsible for wisdom. In the near future activation
of “wisdom centers” will probably become a routine procedure, and scientists will be able to create the
greatest wise men of the modern era. Developed intelligence with a new level of wisdom could not only
change the life of an individual but of the society as a whole.