There has been mixed evidence for age differences in wisdom-related knowledge across the adult life span. This study investigated two potential moderators of the link between age and wisdom-related knowledge: the wisdom criteria and the wisdom tasks.
To test these moderators, 40 younger and 40 older participants completed four wisdom tasks differing in context-richness. Independent trained raters coded the resulting think-aloud protocols in terms of value relativism, as defined in the Berlin wisdom paradigm, and perspective taking, as defined by Grossmann.
The type of task did not show any main or interaction effects on the present two wisdom criteria. However, age differences in the two wisdom criteria were multidirectional: whereas perspective taking did not differ by age group, value relativism was lower in older than younger adults. In addition, value relativism, but not perspective taking, was related to measures of fluid and crystallized intelligence, whereas perspective taking, but not value relativism, was related to a measure of life investment.
This study provides evidence for the idea that value relativism and perspective taking are two distinct facets of wisdom-related knowledge. Implications for future age-comparative research interested in wisdom are discussed.