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New Ideas in Psychology

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Cultural synergy, Mixed methods approach, Social change, Taiwanese, Wisdom






This study examined the relationships among wisdom, cultural synergy (i.e., incorporating lessons learned from different cultures), and social change by re-analyzing 220 “wisdom incidents” (i.e., real-life displays of wisdom) collected from 1997 to 2003 from 66 Taiwanese adults nominated as wise individuals (Yang, 2008a). We addressed these questions empirically with a mixed-methods approach: (a) “What are the features of cultural synergy involved in the Taiwanese wisdom nominees’ narratives about their displays of wisdom?”; and (b) “How are real-life displays of wisdom related to cultural synergy and social change?” Wisdom is defined as a real-life process that entails three components: (a) cognitive integration—an individual incorporates separate or conflicting ideas to form an integrated idea; (b) embodying actions—the individual acts to implement the unified idea; and (c) positive effects for oneself and others—the individual's actions generate positive effects for the self and others. The 220 wisdom incidents were re-analyzed qualitatively by young Taiwanese for themes related to cultural synergy and lessons learned from culture; the incidents were re-evaluated quantitatively by young Taiwanese for indications of wisdom, cultural synergy, and social change. A model proposing relationships among wisdom, cultural synergy, and social change was then evaluated using path analysis. Results, which may be generalized to young Taiwanese, show that displays of wisdom had (a) a direct relationship with cultural synergy and social change; and (b) an indirect relationship with social change through cultural synergy. Findings suggest that what the Taiwanese wisdom nominees learned from both their own culture and other cultures is significantly related to cultural synergy which, in turn, is significantly related to promoting social change.

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