Humility in Personality and Positive Psychology

In Mark Alfano, Michael Lynch & Alessandra Tanesini (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Humility. New York, USA: Routledge (forthcoming)
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A case could be made that the practice of philosophy demands a certain humility, or at least intellectual humility, requiring such traits as inquisitiveness, openness to new ideas, and a shared interest in pursuing truth. In the positive psychology movement, the study of both humility and intellectual humility has been grounded in the methods and approach of personality psychology, specifically the examination of these virtues as traits. Consistent with this approach, the chapter begins with a discussion of the examination of intellectual humility as a “character trait,” comparing intellectual humility to various well-known traits in the personality psychology literature (e.g the “Big 5” and the “Big 2”) as well as other key traits such as the need for cognition and the need for closure. The chapter then turns to the proverbial issue of whether virtues in general, and intellectual humility in particular, are a matter of “nature”- that is, an innate trait determined by heritability, or “nurture” – a trait mostly shaped by situation and environment. While the chapter does not resolve the issue, it provides occasion for an examination of the role of situations in the expression of intellectual humility, and for the interaction of “situation” and “trait.” The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the interaction of trait with situation provides the most robust understanding of the psychology of any character virtue, including humility and intellectual humility.
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Archival date: 2019-09-20
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