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The Benefit Of Admitting When You’re Wrong

Recognizing Your Lack of Knowledge Can Enhance Your Image

A recent series of studies conducted by Pepperdine University indicates that individuals who openly acknowledge their lack of understanding tend to possess more knowledge. These studies focused on a concept known as intellectual humility, which refers to the ability to recognize and admit one’s shortcomings in a particular subject.

Intellectual humility differs from general humility, which involves acknowledging one’s limitations. Scholars have long associated general humility with increased academic performance and higher grades, likely due to the realization that there is always more to learn in order to expand one’s knowledge.

Intellectual humility revolves around acknowledging general weaknesses and addressing intellectual fallibility. It involves being receptive to the idea that one’s opinions and thoughts may be incorrect. The researchers behind the recent study suggest that intellectual humility fosters a healthy separation between intellect and ego, emphasizing a willingness to accept new information.

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The study involved approximately 1,200 participants who underwent cognitive assessments, predicted their abilities, and assessed their levels of intellectual humility through various psychological scales and models. The results consistently showed that intellectual humility was positively correlated with broader knowledge.

This indicates that people with higher levels of intellectual humility, although not necessarily more intelligent, tend to possess a greater wealth of knowledge compared to those lacking in intellectual humility. The researchers suggest that this knowledge advantage stems from the fact that humility encourages individuals to engage in behaviors that facilitate learning, such as reflective thinking, curiosity, and openness to new ideas.

Research implies that as individuals acquire more knowledge, their level of intellectual humility tends to increase. This suggests a reciprocal relationship between humility and knowledge, although it remains unclear which attribute typically precedes the other or which serves as the catalyst for the other’s development.


The key takeaway from this study is that curiosity plays a significant role in knowledge acquisition. Recognizing the vastness of the world and the impossibility of knowing everything, the best response when faced with uncertainty is simply admitting, “I don’t know,” to portray intelligence in the eyes of others.

For further insights on this study and related stories, watch the video above.

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