Intellectual humility and prosocial values: Direct and mediated effects

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Intellectual humility and prosocial values: Direct and mediated effects

Research has established links between humility and prosocial outcomes. This study examined, with self-report data, whether humility with regard to one’s knowledge would be predictive of prosocial values. Consistent with hypotheses, intellectual humility was associated with higher levels of empathy, gratitude, altruism, benevolence, and universalism, and lower levels of power seeking. Analyses supported empathy and gratitude as mediators between intellectual humility and prosocial values. These findings leave open the possibility that intellectual humility may be a precursor to links previously established between empathy and gratitude and prosocial outcomes. Characteristics of intellectual humility such as recognizing one’s cognitive limits, having a nondefensive stance toward one’s beliefs, and respecting others’ viewpoints may put one in a unique position to experience empathy and gratitude, and by extension, a host of prosocial values. Future research would be required to examine whether intellectual humility is a possible point of intervention for promoting positive social interactions.


The Journal of PosiTive Psychology, 2017 vol. 12, no. 1, 13–28

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