Occupational settings facilitating wisdom-related knowledge: The sample case of clinical psychologists

Wisdom can be defined as expert knowledge in the fundamental pragmatics of life. Examined here is whether clinical practice may facilitate access to and acquisition of such knowledge. Spontaneous think-aloud responses to 2 wisdom-related dilemmas from 12 young (aged 26-37 yrs) and 12 older (aged 65-82 yrs) female clinicians were compared with responses obtained from 17 young (aged 28-37 yrs) and 19 older (aged 64-75 yrs) other female professionals. Raters judged clinicians' responses as higher on 5 criteria of wisdom: factual knowledge, procedural knowledge, life-span contextualism, value relativism, and management of uncertainty. Contrary to most studies of cognitive aging, young and older adults did not differ. Rather, each age-cohort group received highest ratings when responding to a life dilemma matched to their own life phase. The application of a wisdom framework to assessing therapeutic treatment goals and therapist interventions as well as global changes in client's beliefs during therapy are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)