Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Review of Attractiveness Preferences in Infancy: From Faces to Objects

A Review of Attractiveness Preferences in Infancy: From Faces to Objects. Fabrice Damon et al. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology.

Abstract: Despite some interpersonal variability, judgments of facial attractiveness are largely shared by most individuals, both within and between cultures. ***Infants are also sensitive to attractive faces even before being influenced by cultural standards of beauty***. The intercultural agreement on this matter and its emergence during infancy suggest an evolutionary basis for facial attractiveness. Sensitivity to facial attractiveness is typically understood through evolutionary-based frameworks, either reflecting mate selection mechanisms or emerging as by-products of brain processing and perceptual sensory biases. In the current article, we review data on the emergence and the development of attractiveness preferences in infants, focusing on mechanisms that may explain or contribute to these preferences such as familiarity or fluency in processing. We further discuss the possibility that infants’ preference for attractiveness could extend to other stimuli than faces like objects or visual art. Potential directions for future research are proposed for developmental and comparative approaches.

including attractive cats and tigers, as judged by adults

Wisdom and how to cultivate it: Review of emerging evidence for a constructivist model of wise thinking

Wisdom and how to cultivate it: Review of emerging evidence for a constructivist model of wise thinking. Igor Grossmann. European Psychologist, in press. Pre-print:

Abstract: Some folk beliefs characterize wisdom as an essence – a set of immutable characteristics, developing as a consequence of an innate potential and extraordinary life experiences. Emerging empirical scholarship involving experiments, diary and cross-cultural studies contradicts such folk beliefs. Wise thinking, which includes intellectual humility, recognizing uncertainty and change, considering different perspectives and integrating these perspectives, is subject to cross-situational variability. Cumulatively, empirical research suggests that variability in wise thinking is systematic, with greater wisdom in naturally and experimentally-induced contexts promoting an ego-decentered (vs. egocentric) viewpoint. Moreover, teaching for wisdom benefits from appreciation of context-dependency of intentions and actions depicted in the narratives of wisdom exemplars’ lives. I conclude by advancing a constructivist model of wise thinking, suggesting that cultural-historical, personal-motivational, and situational contexts play a critical role for wisdom, its development and its application in daily life.


Empirical scholarship on wisdom started to emerge in the 1980s and has since risen tenfold over the last 20 years (Glück et al., 2013; Meeks & Jeste, 2009). Building on this scholarship, here I advocate for a constructivist (vs. essentialist) model of wisdom1. From the constructivist perspective, wisdom is neither an innate property of the mind nor is it passively transmitted to individuals through experience. A constructivist account suggests that wisdom and wisdom-oriented learning are grounded in a socio-cultural context. Expression of wisdom in reasoning varies across situational and cultural contexts, which have the power to sustain or inhibit it. Appreciation of cultural-historical, motivational, and situational contexts is also critical for the understanding of wisdom exemplars. Reflections on wisdom exemplars across such contexts can further promote ways of thinking that are characteristic of wisdom. Sensitivity to such contextual factors has a unique power for wisdom-enhancing interventions, with direct applicability in educational and workplace settings.

What is wisdom?

The dictionary definition of characteristics attributed to a wise person entails the "ability to discern inner qualities and relationships" (Merriam Webster, 2017). Notably, wisdom can also refer to “accumulated philosophical or scientific learning” or “the teachings of the ancient wise men” (Merriam Webster, 2017)). The present article mainly concerns the former characteristics of a wise mind, which represent a common thread across definitions of wisdom in behavioral sciences (Bangen, Meeks, & Jeste, 2013; Grossmann & Kung, in press). Readers interested in broad introductions to wisdom traditions may consult Curnow (2015) and Ryan (2013).
The first wave of wisdom research has examined how lay people conceptualize this construct (Bluck & Glück, 2005). In lay views, wisdom appears to be weakly related to the concepts of intelligence and creativity (Sternberg, 1985). In contrast to intelligence, people associate wisdom with sagacity. In lay views, wisdom is linked to reflection and integration of perspectives, whereas creativity is linked to impulsive free-spiritedness. Commonly, people associate wisdom with adjectives reflecting such cognitive abilities as being observant and seeing things within a larger context, being flexible, considering various opinions in a situation, reflecting on the self and the world, as well as socio-emotional abilities (Clayton, 1976; Holliday & Chandler, 1986). By asking people to recall a  situation in which they did “something wise” (e.g., giving advice to  a person suffering from depression or dealing with a family conflict), scholars also identified that in lay views wisdom concerns the process of working through a challenging situation rather than its outcome (Glück, Bluck, Baron, & McAdams, 2005).
Scholars also assessed individual qualities of “wisdom exemplars”  -- people nominated by others for their wisdom (Bluck & Glück, 2005; Orwoll & Perlmutter, 1990). Such exemplars included public figures and cultural-historical icons which appear to embody defining wisdom-related characteristics. For instance, Weststrate, Ferrari and Ardelt (2016) identified that North Americans tend to nominate advisors, military strategies or political leaders known for their practical abilities (e.g., Churchill, Lincoln), scientists and philosophers (e.g., Einstein, Socrates), and martyrs and social activists (e.g., Gandhi or Mandela). Most nominated exemplars were known for a great insight into handling complex real-life issues and their work on social problems, rather than their benevolence or emotional competencies.
Lay beliefs tend to be grounded in philosophical and religious belief systems (e.g., Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam), which contribute to cross-cultural variability in folk epistemologies (e.g., Kung, Eibach, & Grossmann, 2016; Machery et al., 2015; Nisbett, Peng, Choi, & Norenzayan, 2001). That is why the second wave of wisdom scholarship moved from characterizing lay concepts of wisdom to defining individual characteristics involved in a wise judgment when facing uncertain challenges of social life, inspired by previous philosophical and religious scholarship (Baltes, 2004; Kekes, 1995). Social life problems frequently involve complex interpersonal considerations (Kelley & Thibaut, 1978). To illustrate such complexity, consider the following letter sent to advice columnist Abigail van Buren: 


How do you think this situation will unfold? What do you think should be done? Such situations are ill-defined (cf. Schraw, Dunkle, & Bendixen, 1995; Vervaeke & Ferraro, 2013) – i.e. they involve trade-offs or conflicts between different intrapersonal, interpersonal, and/or extra-personal (i.e. group-centric) interests in people’s lives (Gardner, 2007; Sternberg, 1998). Scholars suggested that a wise response to complex, ill-defined social situations like the one depicted in the letter involve the recognition that fuller understanding of the event depends on the integration of different concerns and viewpoints behind the events described in the letter. Vivian Clayton (1976) was among the first to discuss the topic of wisdom in psychology. She characterized it through the search for meaningful solutions to conflicts with the help of a dialectical logical system – i.e., an awareness of an inherent contradiction between different interests in our lives as well as the understanding that such interests are in flux and change. Michael Basseches (1980) further synthesized criteria involved in such dialectical logic, including recognition of limits of one’s knowledge, awareness of change, perspective flexibility, and an attempt to integrate seemingly contradictory perspectives.
In the 1990s, Baltes and colleagues used these criteria for measurement of wisdom in response to complex situations similar to the one described above. Baltes defined wisdom as “expert knowledge system dealing with the conduct and understanding of life ” (Baltes & Smith, 2008, p. 58). Such expertise entails characteristics of thought discussed earlier by Clayton, Basseches and other “neo-Piagetian” developmental psychologists (e.g., Kallio, 2015; Kramer, 2000), including an awareness of the variability in life contexts, their relationship and change over time, recognition of individual and group differences in norms and goals, and acknowledgment (and management) of life uncertainties (Baltes & Smith, 2008).

    Other scholars proposed similar conceptual definitions. For instance, Ardelt (1997, 2003) defined wisdom through the integration of insight, self-reflection on one’s limitations, and perspective-taking. Similarly, Sternberg (1998) characterized wisdom through integration (or balance) of conflicting intrapersonal, interpersonal, and extrapersonal interests over the short and long term, when managing a situation at hand. To study the expression of wisdom in everyday life, my colleagues and I drew on this scholarship to synthesize aspects of cognition in a framework of wise thinking (Grossmann, 2017; Grossmann et al., 2010). They include (a) intellectual humility or recognition of limits of own knowledge, (b) appreciation of perspectives broader than the issue at hand, (c) sensitivity to the possibility of change in social relations, and (d) compromise or integration of different opinions (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Expression of wise thinking in everyday life, represented by frequently co-occurring aspects of cognition. Adopted from Grossmann (2017).

Empirical studies have shown that these aspects of wise thinking like those described above tend to converge on a single second-order latent factor (Grossmann & Kross, 2014; Grossmann, Na, Varnum, Kitayama, & Nisbett, 2013; Kunzmann & Baltes, 2003). In fact, a model with a single, second-order factor appears to fit the empirically-assessed expression of wise thought better than alternative models (Brienza, Kung, Santos, Bobocel, & Grossmann, in press; Grossmann, Gerlach, & Denissen, 2016). Wise thinking shows convergent validity through robust associations to eudemonic virtues (e.g., cooperative intentions, contribution to others, growth; Grossmann, Brienza, & Bobocel, 2017; Huynh, Oakes, Shay, & McGregor, in press; Kunzmann & Baltes, 2003; Wink & Staudinger, 2016), interpersonal well-being (Grossmann et al., 2013), superior emotion regulation (Grossmann, Gerlach, et al., 2016), openness to diverse viewpoints during heated intergroup conflicts (Kross & Grossmann, 2012), and prosocial behavior (Grossmann, Brienza, et al., 2017). These observations are consistent with the philosophical contention that wisdom can promote prosociality and a “good” life (Bangen et al., 2013; Kekes, 1995; Tiberius, 2008). At the same time, there is evidence of discriminant validity: wise thinking is only weakly related to standard measures of intelligence and related physiological processes (Grossmann et al., 2010, 2013; Grossmann, Sahdra, & Ciarrochi, 2016; Staudinger, Lopez, & Baltes, 1997). In terms of predictive validity, wise thinking is either unrelated or inversely related to measures of social-cognitive bias and positively related to balancing of goals and different causal inferences (Brienza et al., in press; Grossmann, Sahdra, et al., 2016), consistent with the assumption of wise thinking reflecting an unbiased judgment and promotes a greater balance in one’s life (Sternberg, 1998). Aspects of wise thinking such as intellectual humility also attenuate political bias, as indicated by the likelihood of accusing politicians who changed their minds of “flip-flopping,” and predict greater appreciation of facts over opinions (Leary et al., 2017). Moreover, some aspects of wise thinking as depicted in Figure 1 can be of advantage when aiming to produce accurate forecasts about the development of societal events (Silver, 2012; Tetlock, 2005).

Is wise thinking an ethereal entity?

Until recently, there has been some debate about the essentialist nature of wisdom.  Some lay people subscribe to an essentialist view of “true wisdom” as a rare, discreet trait that is immutable in the face of challenges and requires major sacrifice on a path to its achievement (Grossmann & Kung, in press). Analogous to essentialist lay beliefs of personality (Haslam et al., 2004), the extreme version of an essentialist view about wisdom suggests that a person is either wise or not and that there is little one can do to change one’s wisdom. The unique way of characterizing discreteness of wisdom also concerns belief in its rarity – i.e. the belief that most people are not wise. On a surface, the person-centered characterization of wisdom through remarkable exemplars, such as Confucius, Mahatma Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela, appears to propagate this perspective. 
This essentialist view it partially rooted in Ancient Greek philosophy, often attributed to the works of Plato and Aristotle, (Matthews, 1990), though it is present in some other world philosophies as well (e.g., Mahalingam, 1998). One common interpretation of Aristotelian writing (1984, pt. 1105a27-b1) is that virtuous action proceeds from “firm and unchangeable character.” Thus, a wise person acts wisely irrespective of circumstances (Doris, 2002), reflecting a core tenant of essentialist beliefs – immutability (Haslam et al., 2004). A further proposition attributed to Aristotle is that phronesis (practical wisdom) cannot be taught explicitly and that the path to wisdom naturally unfolds by working through life challenges over one’s lifespan (Aristotle, 1984; Schwartz & Sharpe, 2006). Notably, developmental psychologists suggest that psychological essentialism is an instinctive and cross-culturally universal feature of human development, underlying humans’ intuitive understanding of their social world (e.g., De Freitas, Cikara, Grossmann, & Schegel, 2017; Gelman et al., 2004). 

Table 1.
Quotes concerning essentialist portrayal of wisdom in contemporary scholarship.
“In the true spirit of wisdom as representing a utopian quality, high levels of wisdom-related knowledge are rare.” (Baltes & Smith, 2008, p. 60)
 “In contemporary empirical science, wisdom has come to be regarded as a trait that is ascribed to persons making wise decisions. […] Wisdom is a very broad trait of the highest level of mental functioning.”  (Birren & Svensson, 2005, p. 15)
“Wisdom sits alone. We cannot rehearse or practice it” (Godlovitch, 1981)
“Wisdom is a character-trait intimately connected with self-direction. The more wisdom a person has the more likely it is that he will succeed in living a good life” (Kekes, 1983)
“Wisdom is learned but cannot be taught – at least not didactically” (Schwartz & Sharpe, 2006, p. 388)
“The ultimate aim of character education is the development of good sense or practical wisdom” (Arthur, 2014) […] “character here being understood as set of personal traits or dispositions that evoke specific emotions, inform motivation and guide conduct” (Kristjánsson, 2014)a
Contemporary Aristotelians generally attribute three functions to practical reason: (A) Adjudicating conflict-of-virtue dilemmas, (B) persuading or overruling passions, and (C) determining what to do and feel within the sphere of a single virtue. Practical reason has these functions with respect to every virtue. Practical wisdom is the disposition to perform these tasks well. (Curzer, 2017)

 Note. Italics are added for emphasis. a – Arthur and Kristjánsson are Director and Deputy Director, respectively, of the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Character Education. Their quotes are taken from a policy-oriented papers representing Centre’s general perspective on wisdom and character. 
Some educational and social scientists have partially echoed an essentialist perspective (see Table 1). For instance, at a recent “Character, Wisdom and Virtues” meeting of philosophers, social scientists and educational practitioners at Oxford, UK, at least one-third of the talks invoked some essentialist characteristics when characterizing wisdom (Arthur & Kritjánsson, 2017).2 The essentialist approach for studying wisdom is also implicit in the research methods. The most common method for measuring wisdom today involves the application of single-shot trait-style questionnaires, in which individuals self-rate on thoughtfulness, reflective abilities, empathy, or benevolence (e.g., Ardelt, 2003; Glück et al., 2013; Park & Peterson, 2008; Webster, 2003). Fueled by the essentialist belief that wisdom is a fixed trait, there appears to be little need to measure person’s characteristic on more than one occasion. Curiously, wisdom exemplars such as Buddha, Confucius, or Gandhi did not subscribe an essentialist perspective, emphasizing the role of explicit teaching of wisdom and its practice throughout one’s lifespan (e.g., Gandhi & Attenborough, 1982; Humphreys, 1961; Lin, 1994). Moreover, many such exemplars are known for significant inconsistencies in their wisdom across different domains of life or over time (Grossmann & Kross, 2014), raising doubt in the notion of wisdom as an immutable entity.

Wisdom varies across situations

In the last twenty years, empirical researchers started to address the question about the essentialist nature of wisdom. In one of the earliest laboratory studies, Staudinger, Lopez, and Baltes (1997) explored the expression of wisdom across hypothetical tasks capturing different situations (family problem, meaning-of-life problem, suicide problem). Analyses revealed that performance on a particular task yields a great deal of unique variance (26-56%), unaccounted by a wide range of individual difference measures and wisdom scores on other two tasks. Further support for this observation came from another recent study (Glück et al., 2015) exploring autobiographic narratives of Austrians nominated by others for their wisdom. On different days, scientists interviewed wisdom nominees about challenging experiences from their past and analyzed their responses for wise thinking. Results indicated a large degree of reliability across the various aspects of wise thinking, r = .70, yet only a modest degree of convergence in nominees’ responses across interview days, r = .30, pointing out to a highly variable distribution of wise thinking across different situations.

Solomon’s paradox

Cross-situational variability in wisdom appears to be systematic. Consider the classic example of the Biblical King Solomon, who is often portrayed as a paragon of wisdom. Famed throughout his kingdom for his sage judgment, people traveled far and wide to seek his counsel. When it came to his life, however, many of Solomon’s decisions lacked insight. Despite being a chief priest of Jewish Kingdom, Solomon maintained over 800 pagan wives and concubines. Solomon’s passions distracted him from educating his son, who grew up an ineffective tyrant. Solomon was also fond of riches, which he often boasted about to others. His personal lifestyle preferences proved unsustainable, a phenomenon that contributed to his Kingdom’s subsequent demise (Parker, 1992).
This biblical analogy about Solomon’s judgments about personal vs. non-personal issues suggests that in situations that involve the self (vs. situations involving others), people’s ability to reason wisely may be inhibited. Researchers recently explored whether the systematic self-other asymmetry in wise thinking extends beyond exemplars (Grossmann & Kross, 2014). In a set of studies, U.S. Americans, all in long-term romantic relationships, reflected on situations concerning their partner (self-centered condition) or comparable situations concerning their friend’s partner (non-self-centered condition). Consider a situation like the one below:
Your [friend’s] partner admitted being unfaithful. You have [your friend has] been in a serious relationship, and now you [your friend] suddenly learn that your partner [learns that his/her partner] had sex with your [friend’s] close friend.

Subsequently, participants described their thoughts about the future development of the relationship, answering directed questions about aspects of wise thinking such as recognition of limits of their knowledge, consideration of uncertainty and change in ways the relationship might unfold, as well as consideration of different perspectives on the event, and search for a compromise. Results indicated that participants showed a greater tendency to reason wisely in situations concerning a close friend than conditions involving the self. This finding has since been independently replicated in a different laboratory (Huynh et al., in press).

Cross-cultural variability

Cultures also differ in chronic differences to focus on others vs. the self. A number of studies indicate that some cultural groups such as Japanese tend to be more oriented to others when thinking about interpersonal experiences than other cultural groups, such as European Americans, who tend to focus on the self when reflecting on similar experiences (e.g., Cohen, Hoshino-Browne, & Leung, 2007; Grossmann & Kross, 2010). Based on these observations, my colleagues and I were wondering whether cultures vary in their likelihood of expressing wise thinking as well. Specifically, we hypothesized that people from cultures that encourage a focus on social context (e.g., Japan) might show a greater ability to reason wisely early on than people from cultures that promote individual-centered focus (e.g., U.S.).
We put these ideas to the test in a multi-session study involving age- and social-class-heterogeneous samples of U.S. Americans from the Midwest and Japanese from the Tokyo Metropolitan area (age range: 25-75 years; Grossmann et al., 2012). Participants read newspaper articles describing a series of intergroup (political power, immigration, natural resources; Grossmann et al., 2010; session 1) and interpersonal conflicts (friends, relatives, spouses; Grossmann et al., 2010; session 2), including the “Dear Abby” vignette described above. An interviewer asked participants to reflect out loud on the future development of the issues described in the article, using such probes as “What do you think will happen next? Why do you think it will happen as you just said? What do you think should be done?” Participants’ responses were transcribed and content-analyzed by independent coders for wise reasoning. Results indicated that younger and middle-aged Japanese showed greater ability to reason wisely about societal and interpersonal conflicts than their U.S. American counterparts. These results hold when controlling for cognitive abilities, occupational prestige, and response length.

Wisdom outside the lab

Recently, scholars also extended the study of wise thinking into the real world, asking a group of adults from Berlin, Germany, to fill out a 9-day diary (Grossmann, Gerlach, et al., 2016). Each day, participants reflected on the most difficult situation encountered during the day, reconstructed the experience and answered questions concerning wisdom in their reflections.
On average, researchers observed a modest association between scores of wise thinking across diary days, r = .20. In other words, a person showing lots of wisdom in situation X had about 4% chance of showing a similar degree of wisdom in situation Y. Comparably modest degree of intra-individual stability appears when comparing wise reasoning about distinct interpersonal situations from the recent past or when examining how wise reasoning varies over periods of several years (Brienza et al., 2017). Researchers also compared between-person scores, averages of participant’s scores across the diary, and within-person scores – i.e. daily deviations from the individual averages. Subsequent analysis of the density distribution of these scores revealed at least as much, if not more, variability in wise thinking within the same person across different situations (i.e. intra-person variability) compared to variability in wisdom between people (i.e. between-person variability). Further comparison of the within-person variance in wisdom to established personality constructs (Grossmann, 2017) indicated that between 66 and 94% of the wisdom variance is accounted by within-person variability (in comparison to 49-78% for the Big Five personality constructs (Fleeson & Gallagher, 2009; also see Santos, Huynh, & Grossmann, 2017). That is, similar to key personality dimensions, wise thinking appears to have a stable trait-like component, but is also subject to substantial within-person variability. Notably, the stability in wise reasoning among the top 25% performers in the diary was also small, r = .23, tentatively suggesting that intra-individual stability in wise reasoning is not greater among wiser individuals.3
As in prior experimental work (Grossmann & Kross, 2014), variability in wisdom outside the lab followed a systematic pattern: participants in the diary study were wiser when reflecting on situations involving other people as compared to non-social situations (Grossmann, Gerlach et al., 2016). Moreover, person’s display of wisdom in a given situation was a much stronger predictor of the happiness, emotional balance, and forgiveness, as compared to average or trait wisdom. In contrast, being a wise person (i.e. average score across diary days) had little impact on emotional reactivity or forgiveness in a particular situation if the individual handled that situation unwisely.
The prospect of cross-situational and cross-cultural malleability in people’s wise thinking also raises the question about the utility of the empirical insights for teaching wisdom. Some work has started to address this question, which I will turn to next.

Teaching wise thinking

Insights about the cross-situational variability of wise thinking shed light on the development of strategies that can orient people towards it. Further, one can consider how the context-dependent expression of wise thinking impacts the understanding of wisdom exemplars and their utility in educational curricula. I reflect on each approach below.

Strategies boosting wisdom

Experimental studies from the last two decades started to shed light on conditions that can boost wise thought. One of the first experiment in this body of research instructed young adults in Germany to imagine sitting on a cloud and to consider the customs of various countries as one flies over them (Böhmig-Krumhaar, Staudinger, & Baltes, 2002). Subsequently, researchers measured participants’ reflections on another task. Content-analyses of their verbal reflections revealed that participants who were instructed to imagine sitting on a cloud and reflect on customs in various countries were more likely to mention statements reflecting a greater appreciation of broader contexts and relativism in one’s values.
More recently, researchers started to examine how to boost wise thinking in situations that may make people susceptible to foolish actions. Stressful circumstances of daily life can make people egocentric (e.g., Wegner & Giuliano, 1980). Excessive self-focus prevents one from seeing the "big picture" of a situation (Grossmann & Jowhari, 2017) and can lead to biases in decision-making (e.g., Kimel, Grossmann, & Kitayama, 2012). It is possible to combat egocentrism common to stressful events by adopting an ego-decentered or a 'fly on the wall' perspective on personal issues (Kross & Ayduk, 2011). It appears that this strategy can be effective in promoting wise thinking as well, emulating psychological features of situations in which one is not directly involved. In a set of laboratory experiments, participants reflected on interpersonal (Grossmann & Kross, 2014, Studies 2-3) or intergroup conflicts (Kross & Grossmann, 2012), either adopting an ego-decentered viewpoint or an ego-focused viewpoint. In each study, cueing people to think over negative past experiences from an ego-decentered perspective led to greater intellectual humility, the recognition that the challenges one may be facing are likely impermanent, and the consideration of different perspectives, as well as their integration. In fact, a small instruction to use a third-person language (“what will Jack do?”) instead of the first-person language (“what will I do?”) provided a slight boost in wisdom when reflecting on a challenging situation. Furthermore, temporal distancing (e.g., taking a perspective on the experience as if it happened a year ago vs. is happening here and now) led to relationship-sustaining reasoning about interpersonal transgressions (Huynh, Yang, & Grossmann, 2016). Moreover, Solomon’s Paradox – i.e. the drop in wisdom when reasoning about personal vs. other’s problems (Grossmann & Kross, 2014; Study 1) appears to be attenuated when adopting an ego-decentered perspective (Grossmann  & Kross, 2014, Studies 2-3) and when examining individuals with a heightened pursuit of virtue (e.g., the desire to think beyond one’s personal interest) (Huynh et al., in press).  High virtue pursuit was associated with wise reasoning for others' and participants' social conflicts. In contrast, high social intelligence amplified Solomon's Paradox (Huynh et al., in press; Studies 1-2).
Adopting a role of a teacher can similarly orient people towards wise thinking. Psychologists theorized that being a teacher or mentor is central to “generativity” – an antecedent of maturity that necessitates an orientation beyond the self (Erikson, 1980; McAdams, Hart, & Maruna, 1998), suggesting that adopting a role of a teacher may promote wise thinking. In a set of field experiments, conducted at the peaks of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections, researchers put this hypothesis to the test (Huynh, Santos, Tse, & Grossmann, 2017). Young and middle-aged adults were randomly assigned to explain in writing a contentious political issue they deeply cared about to a 12-year-old (teacher condition) or to explain the issue to a peer or write down their thoughts when reflecting on the issue (control conditions). Participants’ essays were content-analyzed for wise reasoning (i.e. consideration of multiple perspectives on the issue, synthesis of these different points of view in a balanced fashion vs. a biased representation of the issue). In each study, results indicated that participants in the teacher (vs. control) conditions reasoned about the political issue in a wiser fashion.

Constructivist perspective on teaching wisdom

There is a great interest in the topic of teaching for wisdom (e.g., Ferrari & Potworowski, 2008; Sternberg, 2010). Though seemingly straightforward, no proposed programs for training for wisdom have been so far validated empirically. Moreover, some scholarship suggests that effective teaching of wisdom-related qualities may be difficult. This scholarship focuses on teaching virtuous behavior – arguably a quality closely linked to one’s ability to make wise decisions (e.g., Sternberg, 1998). Darley and Batson (1973) tested helping behavior among 40 young adults who were students at the Princeton Theological Seminary: Refreshing seminary students’ knowledge of the virtue of prosociality (preparing a talk about the Good Samaritan parable) did not yield more helping behavior than the control condition (drafting a talk about seminary jobs). In a similar vein, professionals teaching ethics, who have vast knowledge about moral principles, do not show more ethical behavior on various moral issues than control groups (Schwitzgebel, 2014; Schwitzgebel & Rust, 2014): Researchers instructed 198 ethics professors, 208 non-ethics philosophers, and 167 professors in departments other than philosophy from universities in five U.S. states (California, Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Washington) to work through eight moral issues, including academic society membership, voting, staying in touch with one’s mother, vegetarianism, organ and blood donation, responsiveness to student emails, charitable giving, and honesty. Though ethics professors expressed somewhat stronger attitudes towards vegetarianism and charitable donations ethics professors did not express more moral behavior. These observations raise the question about the effectiveness of explicit teaching for wisdom.
On the other hand, in a related domain of teaching inferential reasoning about everyday life events, researchers have observed effective training effects. For instance, both cross-sectional (Nfirst-year = 396; Nthird-year = 157) and longitudinal (N = 206) studies of graduate students in law, medicine, psychology and chemistry have shown that by the third-year psychology and medical graduate students score substantially higher than first-year students on tasks measuring statistical and methodological reasoning, whereas psychology, medical and law students score higher on reasoning about problems in the logic of the conditions (Lehman, Lempert, & Nisbett, 1988). In contrast, researchers observed little difference among chemistry students, which does not involve training in respective forms of reasoning (Lehman et al., 1988). Further, when researchers instructed University of Michigan college students and New Jersey homemakers (most with secondary education only; n = 68) to learn inductive reasoning through a brief training session involving abstract examples from economics and statistics. As compared to the control group (n = 69) training group showed superior statistical reasoning about everyday life events (Nisbett, Fong, Lehman, & Cheng, 1987). Though inferential reasoning is not equivalent to the wisdom-related reasoning principles highlighted in Figure 1, both inferential and wisdom-related reasoning share in common appreciation for multiple perspectives and uncertainty, suggesting that to an extent wise reasoning can be trained as well.
Examples for effective teaching of inferential and statistical reasoning raise the question whether wise reasoning can also be taught4. It is noteworthy that theoretical propositions on teaching materials for wisdom often involve utilizing portrayals of wisdom exemplars and their actions as parts of the curriculum (e.g., Bassett, 2011; Sternberg, Jarvin, & Reznitskaya, 2008; Zagzebski, 2015). As one scholar recently pointed out, “exemplars are the common currency of wisdom across cultures and generations” (Ferrari, 2016). What is the role of exemplars in facilitating the development of wise thinking? One intuitive idea is that exemplars may act as role models, with lessons from exemplars’ lives providing insights into a general system of knowledge about values and morality. However, as the Darley and Batson’s (1973) study demonstrated, mere knowledge about morals and values does not necessarily make one act virtuously. In a similar way, knowledge about lessons from exemplars’ lives may not necessarily result in wiser reasoning when facing difficult situations in one’s life.

 Here I propose an alternative view on how exemplars can be utilized for teaching wise thinking. Drawing on the empirical insights reviewed above, I suggest that teaching for wisdom can benefit from using exemplars as training tools facilitating wise thinking by situating wisdom exemplars in a particular social context. I elaborate on several key features of such contextual dependence of teaching exemplary wisdom below.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to attribute wisdom to people who achieved success in the realms of philosophy and education (e.g., Socrates and Rousseau), literature (e.g., Ibsen or Tolstoy), or who sparked social and political movements (e.g., Gandhi, Martin Luther King). However, appraisal of exemplary actions often takes the form of posthoc evaluation of the bigger picture context in which the actions took place (Staudinger, 1996). For instance, King Solomon’s preference to boast about riches and cultivating a large harem appears ill-conceived from the contemporary viewpoint, yet may have been viewed as a form of divine blessing and wisdom in other socio-historical contexts. This socio-cultural dependency of wisdom exemplars (e.g., Ferrari et al., 2016) provides an opportunity for facilitating wise thinking: By reflecting on how exemplary intentions and actions are grounded in the socio-cultural affordances of a particular historical period, students may further practice their intellectual humility, recognize different perspectives on a social issue and critically evaluate these perspectives from the contemporary and historical standpoints.
Beyond the benefits of situating exemplars’ narratives in socio-historical context, there are also benefits of situating exemplars’ actions into their larger lifespan narratives as a further method for developing wise thinking. As discussed earlier, exemplars are not likely to be highly consistent in their wisdom across different life domains or experiences. Indeed, some contemporaries of extraordinary individuals such as Rousseau, Ibsen, or Tolstoy attributed them a great deal of egocentrism (e.g., Johnson, 2008), suggesting that in some domains they may have been reasoned in ways that are diametrically opposite to wise thinking. It is possible that convictions in some domains, in which exemplars have been characterized as wise, come at the expense of sacrifice in other domains. Given these considerations, providing broader narratives of exemplars' lives, including their life goals and experiences concerning specific actions, and asking to engage students with these narratives can further facilitate the development of wise thinking (Sternberg et al., 2008). In particular, development of wise thinking can be guided by such questions as “What factors motivated exemplary action?” “What were the challenges and constraints exemplars have faced in their lives and had to overcome?”
Finally, to be considered “exemplary” or “wise,” actions ought to be appraised as admirable (Zagzebski, 2015). The feeling of admiration (Algoe & Haidt, 2009) may facilitate an ego-decentered reflection on exemplar’s actions, inspiring emulation (Bai, 2014; Onu, Kessler, & Smith, 2016; Schindler, Paech, & Löwenbrück, 2015), and indirectly facilitating wise thinking (Grossmann & Kross, 2014; Kross & Grossmann, 2012). Notably, slike any emotion, admiration involves the appraisal of the situational context (Ellsworth & Scherer, 2003; Smith & Ellsworth, 1985). In other words, the psychological benefits of admiration hinge on the successful situating of exemplars’ life narratives in their socio-historical and lifespan contexts.
Overall, teaching wise thinking through exemplars can be guided through a combination of educational tasks concerning the understanding of socio-historical contexts, exemplars’ life narratives, and through the affective processes instigated by reflections on exemplars’ lives. 

Towards a constructivist model of wise thinking

Folk beliefs in many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, promote an essentialist model of wisdom as a manifestation of an innate potential that emerges through the passive accumulation of experience in advanced adulthood (Grossmann & Kung, in press). However, the last decade of empirical research concerning wise thinking and the study of wisdom exemplars started to challenge these beliefs. Wise thinking involves recognizing limits of knowledge, seeing the world as in flux, considering context and acknowledging others' viewpoints, and recognizing the importance of compromise. Empirical studies begin to indicate that wise thinking is influenced by cultural and situational factors. Further, experimental manipulations indicate that ego-decentering strategies boost wise thinking. Together, this work suggests that a constructivist (vs. essentialist) model of wise thinking as grounded in the context of specific activities can play a critical role in the development of wisdom theory and its practical implementation in education and at work. From the constructivist perspective, wise thinking is a skill. It is not simply an attribute of a person but rather a property of a person-in-context (Mascolo & Fischer, 2015). Notably,  any skilled action is a joined product of the (social) context and the individual, and change in context may result in a change how the skill is expressed.
Moreover, as Figure 2 indicates, a constructivist account of wisdom enables unifying the approaches concerning the study of how wise thinking is expressed and can be taught. The likelihood of wise thinking depends on the properties of the cultural, experiential, and situational affordances. Furthermore, various aspects of wise thinking, including intellectual humility, appreciation of different perspectives and recognition of change in events over time, play a critical role in understanding narratives of wisdom exemplars. Wise thinking enables understanding the cultural-historical contexts of exemplars and how these contexts may have changed over time, exemplars’ hidden motivations and goal trade-offs, as well as facilitate admiration of exemplary actions. In return, exemplars’ narratives can facilitate wise thinking through instructions to place exemplary actions in the socio-historical context, experiences (and goals) of exemplars over their lifetime, and (indirectly) through the feeling of admiration.

Figure 2. A constructivist model of wise thinking suggests a relationship between the expression of wise thought (WT) and the educational value of exemplars of wisdom (EW). Different colors reflect different levels of analysis enabling understanding exemplars of wisdom and affording variability in expression of wise thought. Orange = cultural context; Gray = experiential context of the exemplar over their lifespan; Yellow = Situational context.

Some of the elements in Figure 2 have been long emphasized in various educational, legal, and epistemological traditions. For instance, the notion that wisdom emerges through social interactions with others appears both in the U.S. American (Brown, 2004) and Taiwanese educational perspectives (e.g., Chen, Wu, Cheng, & Hsueh, 2011), and is embedded in the Socratic discussion method of understanding complex, contradictory ideas (Nelson, 1980). Wisdom-enhancing strategy of ego-decentering (Grossmann, 2017; Kross & Ayduk, 2011) is central to many contemporary definitions of mindfulness (e.g., Bernstein et al., 2015; Garland, Farb, Goldin, & Fredrickson, 2015), but also appear in the skeptic traditions of Ancient Greece, which advocate for suspending partiality in judgment about social issues to obtain an insight into such issues (e.g., Sextus Empiricus, 2000). The notion of focusing on others’ perspectives appears central to the legal standard of a reasonable person (e.g., Grossmann, Koyama, & Eibach, 2017), but is also found in traditional Taoist teachings emphasizing the virtue of stepping beyond individual points of view (Watson, 2003). Until recently, however, these ideas have not been viewed as parts of the larger system of wisdom-related processes. By bringing these various ideas together, one can start developing a fuller understanding of wise thinking and how to cultivate it.
The constructivist model of wise thinking and the empirical findings are consistent with the dominant theories of personality (e.g., Fleeson & Noftle, 2008; Mischel & Shoda, 1995). Rather than representing Big Five personality traits as immutable, personality psychologists currently view individual differences through the lens of the density distribution of trait-specific characteristics across a range of events. An extrovert may still show signs of introversion in some situations. Such situations, however, are less dominant in the overall portfolio of extravert’s behavior. Similarly, a general ability to reason wisely does not inoculate the person from showing signs of foolishness. The critical question for future research is to identify what conditions are more likely to boost one’s potential for wise thinking. To this end, it is critical to assess expression of wise thinking more than once.


From the constructivist perspective, an individual’s wisdom is socially co-created, bestowed, and maintained. One is wise because one expresses certain attitudes and behaviors during difficult life situations and not because of (biologically-grounded) dispositions. This perspective raises new questions compared to the essentialist perspective. Instead of searching for "truths" about wise and foolish people in dispositions, it emphasizes the practices, the narratives, and the cultural meaning systems producing and reproducing the notions of sages and fools. Critiques of social concepts contend that instead of solely focusing on essentialist questions such as "What is it to be a Woman (or a Jew)? – as though there were something there, in me that needed to be discovered" one could ask constructivist questions "How did I get to be one? How was I claimed or assigned? How was I chosen – by whom and for what?" (Sherman, 1997). In the same vein, social scientists interested in the concept of wisdom often ask “What characteristic makes one wise?” As I argue here, it seems equally important to ask “How does one get to be wise? How is wisdom assigned? How are wise characteristics chosen – by whom and for what?” Notably, by presenting such questions to a student, counselors and educator are likely to sharpen their own and students’ wise thinking.
Throughout millennia, some people have described human characteristics - athletic performance, musicality, leadership qualities, intelligence, and wisdom - as gifts from Gods (Murray, 1989), as immutable essences, which are hard to train and require innate potential. In spite of such folk beliefs, empirical research has revealed that expert abilities are greatly influenced by the environment, even at the highest level of expert performance (Ericsson, Charness, Feltovich, & Hoffman, 2006). Intelligence is influenced by socio-cultural factors (Nisbett et al., 2012), and motivational factors (e.g., Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007). Leaders are not only born, but also made through situational demands (e.g., DeRue, Nahrgang, Wellman, & Humphrey, 2011). Recently emerged empirical work suggests that wise reasoning is similarly malleable across situations people encounter in daily life. The emerging evidence begins to suggest that cross-situational and cross-cultural variability in wisdom-related characteristics is systematic and to an extent predictable, though more empirical work is needed to explore the depths of such systematicity and to evaluate the power of interventions aiming to boost wise thinking. From a constructivist view, the potential for wise thinking emerged in the interaction of the person and their environment. It is up to us to realize this potential through the ways we view the self, the situation, and the world around us. 

The false cues of intelligence are the ones found attractive

Sidari, Morgan (2016). A beautiful mind: Testing the sexual selection theory of human intelligence. Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

Abstract: The evolutionary forces that gave rise to humans’ extreme intelligence are not well understood. One prominent theory is that our surplus intelligence evolved as a fitness indicator to advertise genetic quality to prospective romantic partners. If our intelligence evolved over multitudes of generations’ romantic and sexual choices, this legacy should be reflected in our preferences today. In this thesis, I test several key predictions from the sexual selection theory of human intelligence. Participants (100 males, 99 females) took part in a speed-dating experiment whereby their verbal and non-verbal intelligence was measured and they provided ratings for each other on intelligence, humour, and attractiveness. I made the following predictions: first, measured intelligence will be detectable through perceptions of intelligence and perceptions of humour (a proposed display of intelligence); second, more intelligent people will be found more attractive by members of the opposite sex. Results showed that more intelligent people were perceived as more intelligent; however, they were not perceived as more humorous. Additionally, those who were perceived to be more intelligent or more humorous were found more attractive; however, those who were actually more intelligent were not. The finding that more intelligent people were not perceived as more humorous is not consistent with humour acting as a display of intelligence. Additionally, ***the findings that perceived intelligence is attractive and measured intelligence is not suggest that it may be the false cues of intelligence that are found attractive***. These results are not consistent with intelligence acting as a fitness indicator; thereby raising important issues with a theory that has been prominent in evolutionary psychology for sixteen years and yet remained relatively untested. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.

Support for redistribution is shaped by compassion, envy, and self-interest, but not a taste for fairness

Support for redistribution is shaped by compassion, envy, and self-interest, but not a taste for fairness. Daniel Sznycer et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,  vol. 114 no. 31, 8420–8425.

Significance: Markets have lifted millions out of poverty, but considerable inequality remains and there is a large worldwide demand for redistribution. Although economists, philosophers, and public policy analysts debate the merits and demerits of various redistributive programs, a parallel debate has focused on voters’ motives for supporting redistribution. Understanding these motives is crucial, for the performance of a policy cannot be meaningfully evaluated except in the light of intended ends. Unfortunately, existing approaches pose ill-specified motives. Chief among them is fairness, a notion that feels intuitive but often rests on multiple inconsistent principles. We show that evolved motives for navigating interpersonal interactions clearly predict attitudes about redistribution, but a taste for procedural fairness or distributional fairness does not.

Abstract: Why do people support economic redistribution? Hypotheses include inequity aversion, a moral sense that inequality is intrinsically unfair, and cultural explanations such as exposure to and assimilation of culturally transmitted ideologies. However, humans have been interacting with worse-off and better-off individuals over evolutionary time, and our motivational systems may have been naturally selected to navigate the opportunities and challenges posed by such recurrent interactions. We hypothesize that modern redistribution is perceived as an ancestral scene involving three notional players: the needy other, the better-off other, and the actor herself. We explore how three motivational systems—compassion, self-interest, and envy—guide responses to the needy other and the better-off other, and how they pattern responses to redistribution. Data from the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Israel support this model. Endorsement of redistribution is independently predicted by dispositional compassion, dispositional envy, and the expectation of personal gain from redistribution. By contrast, a taste for fairness, in the sense of (i) universality in the application of laws and standards, or (ii) low variance in group-level payoffs, fails to predict attitudes about redistribution.

Felt Age, Desired, and Expected Lifetime in the Context of Health, Well-Being, and Successful Aging

Felt Age, Desired, and Expected Lifetime in the Context of Health, Well-Being, and Successful Aging. Neala Ambrosi-Randić, Marina Nekić, Ivana Tucak Junaković. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development,

Abstract: This study examines the interrelations of three different aspects of the subjective age: felt, desired and expected, as well as their relations with the chronological age (CA), health, and psychological well-being variables. Four hundred and twenty-three community-dwelling Croatian adults, aged 60–95 years, participated in the study. All three subjective age measures significantly correlated with the CA. Self-rated health were better predictors of the subjective age compared to the psychological variables. Among psychological variables, successful aging was the only significant predictor of the felt and expected age, while optimism showed to be the only significant predictor of the desired age. Results indicate the importance of some sociodemographic, psychological, and health variables for understanding older persons' subjective age identity and their desires and expectations regarding length of life. Besides the CA, it is very useful to include subjective age measures in research with elderly people.

Summary: Old adults see themselves as 10 years younger than their chronological age. Desires about lifetime are rather modest (wanted avg 88 and expected avg 84 yo).

Consumption and Income Inequality in the U.S. Since the 1960s

Consumption and Income Inequality in the U.S. Since the 1960s. Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan. NBER Working Paper No. 23655,

Official income inequality statistics indicate a sharp rise in inequality over the past five decades. These statistics do not accurately reflect inequality because income is poorly measured, particularly in the tails of the distribution, and current income differs from permanent income, failing to capture the consumption paid for through borrowing and dissaving and the consumption of durables such as houses and cars. We examine income inequality between 1963 and 2014 using the Current Population Survey and consumption inequality between 1960 and 2014 using the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We construct improved measures of consumption, focusing on its well-measured components that are reported at a high and stable rate relative to national accounts. While overall income inequality (as measured by the 90/10 ratio) rose over the past five decades, the rise in overall consumption inequality was small. The patterns for the two measures differ by decade, and they moved in opposite directions after 2006. Income inequality rose in both the top and bottom halves of the distribution, but increases in consumption inequality are only evident in the top half. The differences are also concentrated in single parent families and single individuals. Although changing demographics can account for some of the changes in consumption inequality, they account for little of the changes in income inequality. Consumption smoothing cannot explain the differences between income and consumption at the very bottom, but the declining quality of income data can. Asset price changes likely account for some of the differences between the measures in recent years for the top half of the distribution.

Authoritarianism and Affective Polarization: A New View on the Origins of Partisan Extremism

Authoritarianism and Affective Polarization: A New View on the Origins of Partisan Extremism. Matthew D. Luttig. Public Opinion Quarterly, August 02, 2017,

Abstract: What drives affective polarization in American politics? One common argument is that Democrats and Republicans are deeply polarized today because they are psychologically different—motivated by diametrically opposed and clashing worldviews. This paper argues that the same psychological motivation—authoritarianism—is positively related to partisan extremism among both Republicans and Democrats. Across four studies, this paper shows that authoritarianism is associated with strong partisanship and heightened affective polarization among both Republicans and Democrats. Thus, strong Republicans and Democrats are psychologically similar, at least with respect to authoritarianism. As authoritarianism provides an indicator of underlying needs to belong, these findings support a view of mass polarization as nonsubstantive and group-centric, not driven by competing ideological values or clashing psychological worldviews.

Persistent effect of sex ratios on relationship quality and life satisfaction

Persistent effect of sex ratios on relationship quality and life satisfaction. Pauline Grosjean, Robert C. Brooks. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Volume 372, issue 1729, September 19, 2017.

Abstract: Convict transportation to Australia imposed heavily male-biased sex ratios in some areas, altering the convict-era mating market and generating long-running cultural effects that persist to the present day. We test whether convict-era sex ratios have altered marital and overall life satisfaction today, through their persistent effects on gender norms and household bargaining. We find that both women and men are happier, and the happiness gap within married couples is smaller in areas where convict-era sex ratios were heavily male-biased than in areas where sex ratios were historically more even. We discuss our results in light of household bargaining theory, evolutionary sexual conflict theory and the well-documented relationship between conservative attitudes and self-reported happiness.

A male-biased sex ratio, which implies a lower supply of women on the marriage market, results in a generally favourable price for women on the mating market, and better bargaining positions for women within the marital household. As a result, under such conditions, mating market models predict that women are more likely to marry, are less likely to participate in the labour force, and consume more leisure [6–10]. Evidence from traditional [11], historic [12] and industrialized [13] societies suggests that behavioural responses to imbalanced adult sex ratios can be both facultative and highly sensitive to ecological, economic and cultural context.

Wild Voices: Mimicry, Reversal, Metaphor, and the Emergence of Language

Wild Voices: Mimicry, Reversal, Metaphor, and the Emergence of Language. Chris Knight and Jerome Lewis. Current Anthropologym v 58, Number 4 | August 2017,

Abstract: Why is it that, out of 220 primate species, we are the only one that talks? The relative inflexibility of primate vocal signaling reflects audience pressure for reliability. Where interests conflict, listeners’ resistance to being deceived drives signalers to limit their vocal repertoire to signals that cannot be faked. This constraint was lifted in the human case, we argue, because the original victims of our species’ first deceptive vocalizations were nonhuman animals. When our ancestors were vulnerable hominins equipped with limited weaponry, they kept predators away by increasing the range and diversity of their vocal calls. This led to choral singing, primarily by females, and deceptive mimicry of animal calls, primarily by scavenging and hunting males. A critical feature of our model is the core principle of reversal, whereby deceptive signals aimed originally by a coalition against an external target are subsequently redeployed for honest communicative purposes within the group. We argue that this dynamic culminated ultimately in gestural, vocal, and ritual metaphor, opening the way to word formation and the rapid emergence of grammar.

The Good, the Bad, and the Male: Men, But Not Women, Avoid Own-Gender Stereotypical Judgments of Affective Valence

The Good, the Bad, and the Male: Men, But Not Women, Avoid Own-Gender Stereotypical Judgments of Affective Valence. Markus Conrad and Christian von Scheve. Gender Issues, September 2017, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 223–239,

Abstract: We examine gender differences in the endorsement of gender-stereotypical judgments of the affective valence of social concepts. Sociological as well as social psychological theories indicate that individuals are inclined to behave in ways concordant with prevailing roles and corresponding stereotypes. Recent debates suggest gender biases in the social desirability of gender-stereotype endorsement. We use words with apparent gender differences in perceived affective valence and ask participants to (a) individually rate the valence of each word, (b) estimate how, in general, same-sex individuals would rate the word, and (c) estimate how, in general, opposite-sex individuals would rate the word. Results show that female participants’ self-ratings align with their estimated ratings of the majority of women, whereas male participants’ self-ratings notably deviate from their estimated male majority ratings. We interpret these results as a consequence of a declining esteem of stereotypically male attributes in society.

Survival of the Fittest and the Sexiest: Evolutionary Origins of Adolescent Bullying

Survival of the Fittest and the Sexiest: Evolutionary Origins of Adolescent Bullying. Jun-Bin Koh, and Jennifer S. Wong. Journal of Interpersonal Violence,

Abstract: The central idea of evolutionary psychology theory (EPT) is that species evolve to carry or exhibit certain traits/behaviors because these characteristics increase their ability to survive and reproduce. Proponents of EPT propose that bullying emerges from evolutionary development, providing an adaptive edge for gaining better sexual opportunities and physical protection, and promoting mental health. This study examines adolescent bullying behaviors via the lens of EPT. Questionnaires were administered to 135 adolescents, ages 13 to 16, from one secondary school in metro Vancouver, British Columbia. Participants were categorized into one of four groups (bullies, victims, bully/victims, or bystanders) according to their involvement in bullying interactions as measured by the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Four dependent variables were examined: depression, self-esteem, social status, and social anxiety. Results indicate that bullies had the most positive scores on mental health measures and held the highest social rank in the school environment, with significant differences limited to comparisons between bullies and bully/victims. These results lend support to the hypothesis that youth bullying is derived from evolutionary development. Implications for approaching anti-bullying strategies in schools and directions for future studies are discussed.