Empirical exploration of wisdom from a Christian psychology perspective
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Understanding and obtaining wisdom has been one of the most significant enterprises of mankind since the early efforts of thinkers in ancient times. While wisdom is involved in every aspect and function of human nature biologically and spiritually, there has been little empirical investigation of this attribute from a distinctly Christian psychology standpoint. From this awareness, this dissertation argues for the vital need to develop a distinctly Christian version of the psychology of wisdom. The research inquiry includes the construction of an explicit theory of Christian wisdom and an investigation documenting the theory empirically, comparing it to a secular model of wisdom, and then examining how both are related to psychological well-being. Based on Watson's Ideological Surrounded Model of scientific research, two specific methods were incorporated into the research: Operationalizing the Tradition and the Correlational Marker Procedure. The Ideological Surround Model is a theory of empirical research, which was developed to assess the impact of ideologically-based assumptions on psychological knowledge. The research involved two tasks: validating the Christian Wisdom Self-Assessment (CWSA); and (2) comparing the result of CWSA with 3D-WS developed by Monika Ardelt, and their relations to mental health scales. The data was collected from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and 409 subjects were participated in this study. The results of this research suggest that the empirical study of wisdom is not value-neutral. The modem study of wisdom has been constricted by the perspective of Modernism. Some of the results of that body of research share similarities with a Christian view of wisdom, but some appear to be distinctly different from Christian wisdom. Therefore, it is not appropriate to measure the wisdom of Christians using only modem research instruments. However, in spite of this systematic bias, modem wisdom studies also have great value in cultivating and developing human excellence in thinking, feeling and doing, which are commonly recognized as aspects of virtue. The correlational marker analysis also indicates some of positive relationship between Christian wisdom and secular wisdom. Ideally, modem and Christian studies of wisdom can complement and supplement each other. In addition, significantly positive relationships were found between both secular and Christian wisdom and psychological wellbeing such as optimism, subjective happiness and gratitude. Christian pastors, teachers, mentors, soul caretakers, psychologists, and counselors are to be experts on wisdom in knowledge and practice, so that they can help individuals to be wiser in their daily lives. This study helps those wisdom experts to grasp better understanding of wisdom resident in various communities in relation to worldview and psychological well-being.