Now that’s a comforting thought. According to the daily news today, research supported by the Russell Sage (no pun intended) Foundation, the National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation Grant, indicates that socially, older folks, more than younger or middle-aged ones, are more apt to recognize and accept different values, acknowledge and accept uncertainties and changes in one’s life and to acknowledge others’ point of views.
Mind your elders! It’s not as important in life to know how the SEO works or how to program the DVR or how to text someone as it is to handle ‘social wisdom’ – how to get along with people and handle disagreements.
Researchers found that age affects wisdom at every social class, level of education and IQ. Even though older people don’t have the technological wisdom that younger ages have in computers and everyday technology, they do have the advantage of analyzing and solving social problems.
Demographic splits of groups numbering almost 300 — ages 25 to 40, 41 to 59 and 60 plus were given hypothetical situations regarding finance, economic growth, customs, and world problems. The researchers analyzed the results, not knowing which individual or group age the responses came from. Ratings were based on social interchanges such as compromise, flexibility, seeing the other viewpoint and mediating conflict resolution.
Then over 200 of the same groups participated in a second hypothetical area and yet a third comprising scholars, psychotherapists, clergy and counseling professionals.
The results of these tests concluded that economic status, education and IQ were related to having increased wisdom, but academics were no wiser than nonacademics with similar education levels. Researchers were surprised at how much wisdom the groups showed in disputing societal problems. Richard Nisbitt, one of the researchers said, “There is a very large advantage for older people over younger people for those (issues)”. Another researcher, Lynn Hasher remarked that “the study is the single best demonstration of long-held view that wisdom increases with age.”
She continues, “What I think is most important…is that it shows a major benefit that accrues with aging…rather than the mostly loss-based findings reported in psychology. As such it provides a richer base of understanding of aging processes.” She also cited the critical importance of workplaces providing the opportunity for older employees to continue to contribute.
Many work places do the opposite and retire aging employees and replace them with younger employees at a lower salary, compromising the experience and life situations these employees can contribute to the work force by their ongoing and diverse experiences.
Marie Coppola June 2013
Ref: Associated Press