Category: News

Measuring Intellectual Humility

As a culmination of our intellectual humility grant in 2013, my co-authors (Mark Alfano, Kathryn Iurino, Paul Stey, Markus Christen, Feng Yu, and Danial Lapsley) have just published our new multi-dimensional measure of intellectual humility. Over five studies (N=3,651), two languages, and five years went into producing this paper in PLoS One, where we present our validate tool for measuring the trait of intellectual humility in people. Here’s the abstract:

This paper presents five studies on the development and validation of a scale of intellectual humility.This scale captures cognitive, affective, behavioral, and motivational components of the construct that have been identified by various philosophers in their conceptual analyses of intellectual humility. We find that intellectual humility has four core dimensions: Open-mindedness (versus Arrogance), Intellectual Modesty (versus Vanity), Corrigibility (versus Fragility), and Engagement (versus Boredom). These dimensions display adequate self-informant agreement, and adequate convergent, divergent, and discriminant validity. In particular, Open-mindedness adds predictive power beyond the Big Six for an objective behavioral measure of intellectual humility, and Intellectual Modesty is uniquely related to Narcissism. We find that a similar factor structure emerges in Germanophone participants, giving initial evidence for the model’s cross-cultural generalizability.


New Job: Texas A&M University-Kingsville

I’m very excited to announce that I’ve accepted a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, starting this fall. I’ll be joining Jeff Glick and Emil Badici as the philosophers in the Department of History, Political Science and Philosophy.

New publication: Virtues and Psychology

Though it’s taken awhile, my chapter “Virtues and Psychology: Do We Have Virtues and How Can We Know?” is now available (somewhat) online. It is part of the Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management (Alejo José G. Sison, ed.). It is currently preview only, but your library may have access. Either way, here’s the abstract:

Attribution of virtues and vices is commonplace. Saying someone has a virtue helps us explain her behavior and form expectations about how she will behave in the future. Built on the universality of these attributions, virtue ethics has had a long tradition in philosophy, with Aristotle standing at the pinnacle, as well as a modern resurgence. Recently, however, empirical evidence has cast doubt on the existence of virtues and vices. People’s behavior, it seems, is governed more by morally irrelevant situational factors than by robust, internal dispositions like virtues. Yet a new line of argument is beginning to emerge that virtue ethics is still relevant even if virtues do not exist.

Research Institute for Humanity and Nature

RIHN-posterMichael O’Rourke and I just returned from Kyoto, Japan, where we spoke and conducted Toolbox workshops with the environmental researchers at the national Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN).

On the first day, we spoke on problems of communication and collaboration in cross-disciplinary research. As a way of introducing the problem, I compared inter- and transdisciplinary research (collectively cross-disciplinary research, CDR) to the game Double Cranko, which comes from an old episode of M*A*S*H. The game is a cross between chess, checker, poker, and gin (both the drink and the rummy).RIHN2There are no rules; players make them up as they go along. The problem for CDR is much worse. Imagine 2 scientists from different disciplines working on a research project and 2 non-research stakeholders in that project (say one from government and another from business). Each knows one game only, and all the rules, terms, and objectives of that game. In collaborating on this project, they have to develop a way to integrate 4 different games (chess, checker, poker, and gin) into one game. But they don’t even speak the same game language. A point we emphasized over the two days with the RIHN researchers is the need for a co-creation of meaning of ambiguous terms or concepts for effective collaboration.

In the morning workshop of the first day, we facilitated dialogues among the researchers to begin that process of co-creation of meaning. They had to negotiate various ambiguous terms that we gave them in a set of prompts. In the afternoon session, the researchers broke into their research teams to produce a concept map of their projects from which to find project-specific ambiguous terms or concepts that will have to be negotiated with their projects’ non-research stakeholders.

[cross-posted at]

“Reversing the Side-Effect Effect”: Now published in Philosophical Studies

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.49.16 AMMy article “Reversing the Side-Effect Effect” has just come out in Philosophical Studies 172 (1): 177-206. This was authored with Paul Stey and Mark Alfano. In the paper, we demonstrate that we can control the effect by changing what norm is made salient. Norms set expectations it appears. If one’s side effect violate those norm-based expectations, we tend to say that side effect was intentional. There are a number of philosophical issues this raise pertaining to intentionality and other psychological states like belief, knowledge, and desire. You can read the extended summary here in my previous post.


Publication: Semantic Space of Intellectual Humility

Good news, Synonym map for Intellectual Humilityeveryone! Markus Christen, Mark Alfano, and I have another paper forthcoming from our Intellectual Humility Grant. Next month, we will present our paper “The Semantic Space of Intellectual Humility” at the European Conference on Social Intelligence in Barcelona. It will then be published in the conference’s proceedings.

In this paper, we employ psycholexical approach to the study of intellectual humility (IH). This method collects a term’s synonyms and antonyms and then compares the similarity of all those terms. As you can see from the image here (larger version available in the paper), we can then map the terms based on their similarity with each other. In this mapping procedure (superparamagnetic agent mapping) terms are attracted to other similar terms and repel those that are different. Clusters emerge. Looking just at the synonyms, we found three clusters that we labeled the Discreet Self, the Inquisitive Self, and the Sensible Self. Each provides insight into different ways one can be intellectually humble. Put another way, IH is a multi-faceted virtue and our method has revealed three of those facets.

For more (especially about IH’s antonyms), check out the paper. It turns out that IH can also be understood as situated in the mean between various vices. This is close to what Aristotle might have predicted, only we found there were more than two vices.

Moving to Michigan State

I am happy to announce that this fall I will be joining the faculty at Michigan StateMichigan State University as a post-doctoral Research Fellow. I will be joining the NSF-funded Toolbox Project under Michael O’Rourke.


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