In recent years, researchers have been exploring the nature and benefits of intellectual humility—defined, most simply, as “the degree to which people recognize that their beliefs might be wrong.” This work has become all too timely: Recent surveys suggest that social and political polarization in the United States is so intense that 73% of Americans say Democrats and Republicans don’t only disagree on matters of opinion and policy but can’t even “agree on the basic facts.”
Indeed, at a time when many people seem almost exclusively drawn to beliefs with which they already agree, and disparage or dismiss other viewpoints, practicing intellectual humility offers a welcome alternative—and finding ways to encourage this virtue feels increasingly vital to the health of our democracy, as well as to interfaith dialogues, to conversations between the realms of science and religion, and even to our interpersonal relationships.
That is why the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley (GGSC) proposes a new three-year project that aims to:
1. Deepen the public’s—and the media’s—awareness, understanding, and appreciation of intellectual humility as a virtue, guided by recent scientific findings;
2. Highlight the relevance of intellectual humility to various sectors, including K-12 education, health care, faith communities, business, and politics; and
3. Build relationships between intellectual humility researchers and media producers to facilitate effective reporting on intellectual humility research.
In pursuing these goals, the GGSC will both produce a wide range of multimedia content on the science of intellectual humility and also spur other journalists to expand and deepen their coverage of intellectual humility. The project’s outputs will not only target “engaged intellectuals” but also deliver practically oriented resources to leaders across sectors, encouraging them to consider why and how to apply the science of intellectual humility to their work.