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With Age Comes Wisdom: Study
Date:4/5/2010

e of the dispute; realizing that situations rarely stay static; being able to see multiple ways in which the conflict could unfold; recognizing the limits of their own knowledge; and showing a willingness to search for conflict resolution and compromise.

Though the answers varied, wise responses were those that encouraged immigrants to try to fit into their new country, while also encouraging natives to be more tolerant of new arrivals wanting to hold on to the familiar. Unwise comments included those such as: "If you can't speak the language stay at home or get the hell out of there."

Those participants aged 60 and older had higher wisdom scores than either of the other two age groups, the researchers found.

In a second experiment, the researchers asked participants to read "Dear Abby" letters involving personal conflicts between spouses, friends and siblings. Participants were asked how they thought the conflict might unfold over time, and what they thought should be done in the situation.

On average, older people also came up with wiser answers by nearly all measures than younger people, according to the study results.

Nisbett said the findings should come as good news, given the constant barrage of information about the physical and mental declines that can come with aging.

"We keep finding ways in which older people are cognitively defective. With every passing year, I am made more and more aware of the limits of my ability to learn new things," Nisbett said. "But if you have a social conflict, look for an older person to give you advice or discuss it. They are going to have perspectives on it that may be useful in helping you understand what the conflict is about and how it might be resolved."

Colin Milner, chief executive officer of the International Council on Active Aging, said the findings confirm what many have believed to be true.

"In eastern cultures, older adults are rever
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