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Recognizing Your Mistakes Offers Advantages


Recognizing Your Mistakes Offers Advantages

Acknowledging Lack of Knowledge can Enhance Perceptions of Intelligence

A set of recent research conducted by Pepperdine University reveals that individuals who openly admit to lacking an answer to a query tend to possess more knowledge. This study focused on a concept known as intellectual humility, which involves having the insight and honesty to acknowledge areas where one lacks expertise.

Intellectual humility differs from general humility, which is characterized by recognizing one’s limitations. Scholars have long associated general humility with enhanced academic performance and higher grades, largely due to the realization that there is always more to learn in order to effectively absorb new information.

Intellectual humility, on the other hand, revolves around recognizing one’s intellectual shortcomings and acknowledging the potential fallibility of one’s opinions and ideas. Being intellectually humble entails remaining receptive to new information and the researchers behind this study suggest that it indicates a healthy detachment from intellect and ego.

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The study involved nearly 1,200 participants and employed a questionnaire to assess their cognitive capabilities, the accuracy of their self-assessments, and their levels of intellectual humility. For the final segment, the researchers used various psychological scales and models to ensure more precise outcomes, discovering that intellectual humility was consistently associated with broader general knowledge.

This suggests that possessing outstanding cognitive abilities does not necessarily make individuals smarter, but it does indicate that intellectually humble individuals tend to be more knowledgeable than their counterparts. The researchers concluded that this knowledge advantage stems from the fact that humility motivates individuals to take actions that facilitate increased learning, such as engaging in reflective thinking, nurturing intellectual curiosity, and promoting open-mindedness.

Studies propose that as individuals acquire more knowledge, they tend to exhibit heightened levels of intellectual humility. This mutual association between humility and knowledge poses the conundrum of determining which factor influences the other, or whether they mutually inspire each other.


The pivotal insight from this recent study is that fostering curiosity appears to be beneficial, especially in a vast world where understanding everything is nearly impossible. To project an image of intelligence, the most appropriate response when faced with an unanswered question is simply saying, “I do not know.”

For further insights on this research and similar stories, explore the video above.

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