Intellectual humility, which entails openness to other views and a willingness to listen and engage with them, is crucial for facilitating civil dialogue and progress in debate between opposing sides. In the present research, we tested whether intellectual humility can be reliably detected in discourse and experimentally increased by a prior self-affirmation task. Three hundred and three participants took part in 116 audio- and video-recorded group discussions. Blind to condition, linguists coded participants' discourse to create an intellectual humility score. As expected, the self-affirmation task increased the coded intellectual humility, as well as participants’ self-rated prosocial affect (e.g. empathy). Unexpectedly, the effect on prosocial affect did not mediate the link between experimental condition and intellectual humility in debate. Self-reported intellectual humility and other personality variables were uncorrelated with expert-coded intellectual humility. Implications of these findings for understanding the social psychological mechanisms underpinning intellectual humility are considered.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research leading to this article was funded by Grant No. 58942 from the John Templeton Foundation and the Humility and Conviction in Public Life Program at the University of Connecticut. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the UConn or the John Templeton Foundation. We wish to thank Khadija El-Wakai for their help with coding the discussions, and Jonathan Webber, Lukas Litzellachner, as well as Lukas Wolf for useful discussions.
Templeton Foundation grant no. 58942. Acknowledgements
© 2023 The Authors.
- Intellectual humility
- value affirmation
- intellectual humility