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Advantages of Making Mistakes


Advantages of Making Mistakes

Confessing Ignorance Can Enhance Your Intelligence Perception

A set of recent research findings from Pepperdine University indicate that individuals who acknowledge their lack of knowledge on a particular subject tend to possess greater expertise. This study focused on a concept known as intellectual humility, which refers to having the insight or integrity to admit one’s lack of experience in a specific matter.

Intellectual humility differs from general humility, which is characterized by acknowledging one’s limitations. Scholars have long linked general humility with enhanced academic performance and better grades, likely due to the realization that there is always more to learn in order to grasp new information successfully.

Intellectual humility revolves around recognizing general vulnerabilities and grappling with the fallibility of one’s intellect. Being intellectually humble involves being receptive to fresh information, and the authors of the new research indicate that it requires a healthy detachment from intellect and ego.

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The study involved nearly 1,200 participants, utilizing questionnaires to assess the cognitive abilities of the participants, their predictions of these abilities, and their levels of intellectual humility. For the latter, researchers employed various psychological scales and models to ensure more precise findings, and the results revealed that across the board, intellectual humility correlated with greater general knowledge.

This suggests that while intellectually humble individuals may not possess exceptional cognitive abilities, they do tend to have more knowledge than those who lack humility. The researchers concluded that this knowledge advantage stems from humility directly prompting actions that facilitate further learning, such as reflective thinking, intellectual inquisitiveness, and open-mindedness.

Studies propose that as individuals acquire more knowledge, they exhibit an increase in intellectual humility. Therefore, humility and knowledge appear to be interconnected, though it remains challenging to ascertain which factor precedes the other or mutually catalyzes their development.


The key takeaway from this fresh research is that curiosity appears to be a positive trait, especially considering the vastness of the world, which renders it nearly impossible to be familiar with everything. To appear intelligent when faced with a challenging question, simply acknowledge, “I don’t know.”

For further insights on this study and similar narratives, watch the video provided above.

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