Document Type : Original Article


1 Professor of Allameh Tabataba'i University

2 PhD Student, Educational Psychology, Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto, Canada


Wisdom is one of the highest virtues and in a wide range of social activities, ultimately improves oneself and society. It is inherently involved in ethical behavior and the pursuit of social justice and equity for all. Moral intelligence is also one of the moral constructs that lead humans to perform great valuable actions. The purpose of this study was to explain wisdom based on the moral intelligence. For this purpose, a sample of 350 adults (220 females and 130 males) in the age range of 20 to 72 was selected by multistage cluster sampling method from different districts and communities. They answered the wisdom questionnaire of San Diego and the moral intelligence of Lennik and Kiel. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling. The results of the analysis demonstrated that the model fits best for this purpose as the effect of moral intelligence and its dimensions on wisdom was confirmed. Based on the results of this study, it is suggested that social and educational settings and environments, in addition to conventional intelligence, can benefit from moral intelligence where wise people with high wisdom can contribute effectively to a better community development.


Ardelt, M. (1997). Wisdom and life satisfaction in old age. Journals of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences, 52B, 15–27.
Ardelt, M. (2000). Intellectual versus wisdom-related knowledge: The case for a different kind of learning in the later years of life. Educational Gerontology, 26, 771-789.
Ardelt, M. (2003). Empirical assessment of a three-dimensional wisdom scale. Research on Aging, 25(3), 275–324.
Ardelt, M. (2004). Wisdom as expert knowledge system: A critical review of a contemporary operationalization of an ancient concept. Human Development, 47(5), 257–285. doi:10.1159/000079154
Ardelt, M. (2011). The measurement of wisdom: A commentary on Taylor, Bates, and Webster’s comparison of the SAWS and 3D-WS. Experimental Aging Research, 37(2), 241-255. 
Ardelt, M., & Ferrari, M. (2014). Wisdom and emotions. In P. Verhaeghen & C. Hertzog (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of emotion, social cognition, and problem solving in adulthood (pp. 256-272). New York: Oxford University Press.
Ardelt, M., & Jacobs, S. (2009). Wisdom, integrity, and life satisfaction in very old age. Handbook of Research on Adult Learning and Development, 732-760.
Ardelt, M., & Jeste, D. V. (2016). Wisdom and hard times: The ameliorating effect of wisdom on the negative association between adverse life events and well-being. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbw137
Baltes, P. B., & Smith, J. (1990). The psychology of wisdom and its ontogenesis. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Wisdom: Its nature, origins, and development (pp. 87–120).
Baltes, P. B., & Staudinger, U. M. (2000). Wisdom: A metaheuristic (pragmatic) to orchestrate mind and virtue toward excellence. American Psychologist, 55(1), 122-136. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.122
Beheshtifar, M. (2012). The impact of moral intelligence in organizations. Islamic Azad University of Rafsanjan. Third National Conference of Sohrevardi to celebrate applied ethics.
Borba, M. (2005). The step-by-step plan to building moral intelligence. Nurturing kids’ heart & souls.  National educator award, national council of self-esteem, Jessey-bass.
Clarken, R.H., (2009). Moral intelligence in the schools. School of Education, Northern Michigan University, 1-7.
Dai, D. Y., & Cheng, H. (2017). How to overcome the one-track mind:  Teaching for creativity and wisdom. Roeper Review, 39(3), 174–177. doi:10.1080/02783193.2017.1318659
Emmons, R.A. (2000) Spirituality and Intelligence: Problems and Prospects. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 10, 57-64
Enright, R. (2011). Psychological science of forgiveness: implications for psychotherapy and education. Presented at the conference, neuroscience and moral action: Neurological conditions of effectivity, decisions, and virtue pontificia universita della santa croce roma, Italy.
Fengyan, W., & Hong, Zh. (2012). A New theory of wisdom: Integrating intelligence and morality. Psychology Research, 2(1), 64-75. ISSN 2159-5542.
Gluck, J. (2015). Wisdom, Psychology of. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (pp. 590– 597). doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.25042-3
Glück, J., & Bluck, S. (2013). The more life experience model: A theory of the development of personal wisdom. In M. Ferrari & N. Weststrate (Eds.), The scientific study of personal wisdom (pp. 75–98). New York: Springer.
Grossmann, I. (2017). Wisdom in context. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(2), 233- 257.
Killen, M., & Smetana, J. (2008). Moral judgment and moral neuroscience: Intersections, definitions, and issues. Child Development Perspectives, 2(1), 1-6.
Konstam, V., Chernoff, M., & Deveney, S. (2001). Toward forgiveness: The role of shame, guilt, anger, and empathy. Counseling and Values, 46, 26-39.
Kramer, D. A. (1990). Conceptualizing wisdom: The primacy of affect- cognition relations. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Wisdom: Its nature, origins, and development (pp. 279-313). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kramer, D. A. (2000). Wisdom as a classical source of human strength: Conceptualization and empirical inquiry. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 83–101.
Krause, N., & Hayward, R. D. (2015a). Assessing whether practical wisdom and awe of God are associated with life satisfaction. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 7(1), 51-59. doi:10.1037/a0037694.
Krause, N. (2016). Assessing the relationships among wisdom, humility, and life satisfaction. Journal of Adult Development, 23(3), 140-149. doi:10.1007/s10804-016-9230-0
Lennick, D., & Kiel, F. (2005). Moral intelligence, enhancing business performance and leadership success. New Jersey: Wharton School of theUniversity of Pennsylvania and Pearson education.
Lennick, D., Kiel, F., & Jordan, K. (2011). Moral intelligence 2, enhancing business performance and leadership success in turbulent times. Associate Publisher: Tim Moore.
Levitt, H. (1999). The development of wisdom: An analysis of Tibetan Buddhist experience. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 39(2), 85-104.
Manallack, S. (2006). Ethics, success and leadership. Public relations and financial communication. 64 Tennyson St Elwood VIC 3184, 2.
Martin, D.E., & Austin, B. (2010).Validation of the moral competency inventory measurement instrument: content, construct, convergent and discriminant approaches. Management Research Review, 33(5),  437-451.
McCullough, M. E., Worthington, E. L., & Rachal, K. C. (1997). Interpersonal forgiveness in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 321-336.
Meeks, T. W., & Jeste, D. V. (2009). Neurobiology of wisdom: A literature overview. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66(4), 355-365.
Narvaez, D. (2010). The emotional foundations of high moral intelligence. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 77-94.
Noghabi, R. & Delfan Biranvand, A. (1395). Implicit theories of wisdom in Iran; a phenomenological study. Journal of Islamic Psychology,3, 105-87.
Pasupathi, M., Staudinger, U. M., & Baltes, P. B. (2001). Seeds of wisdom: Adolescents' knowledge and judgment about difficult life problems. Developmental Psychology, 37, 351–361.
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sotoodeh, H., Shakerinia, A., Kheirati, M., Dargahi, Sh. & Ghasemi, Rr. (1395). The relation between spiritual intelligence and moral intelligence and psychological well-being of nurses. Journal of Ethic and History of Medical Profession, 9(1), 63-67.
Sternberg, R. J. (1998). A balance theory of wisdom. Review of General Psychology, 2, 347–365.doi:10.1037/1089-2680.2.4.347
Sternberg, R. J. (2001b). Why schools should teach for wisdom: The balance theory of wisdom in educational settings. Educational Psychologist, 36, 227–245. doi:10.1207/S15326985EP3604_2
Sternberg, R. J. (2003). What Is an “Expert Student?” Educational Researcher, 32, 5–9. doi:10.3102/001318 9X032008005
Sternberg, R. (2019). Why people often prefer wise guys to guys who are wise: An augmented balance theory of the production and reception of wisdom. In R. Sternberg & J. Glück (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of wisdom (pp. 16–181). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sternberg, R. J. (2018). Speculations on the role of successful intelligence in solving contemporary world problems. Journal of Intelligence, 6, 4.
Sternberg, R. J., Jarvin, L., & Reznitskaya, A. (2008). Teaching for wisdom through history: Infusing wise thinking skills in the school curriculum. In M. Ferrari & G. Potworowski (Eds.), Teaching for wisdom (pp. 37–57). Dordrecht: Springer.
Taylor, M., Bates, G., & Webster, J. (2011): Comparing the psychometric properties of two measures of wisdom: Predicting forgiveness and psychological well-being with the Self-Assessed Wisdom Scale (SAWS) and the Three-Dimensional Wisdom Scale (3D-WS). Experimental Aging Research: An International Journal Devoted to the Scientific Study of the Aging Process, 37(2),129-141.
Taylor, M. (2006). Giving wisdom back to the people: Laypeople and their Lay wisdom. Master Thesis, University of Missouri.
Thomas, M., Banegan, K., Palmer, B., Martin, A., Avanzino, J., Depp, C., Glorioso, D., Daly, R.,  & Jeste, D. (2019). A new scale for assessing wisdom based on common domains and a neurobiological model: The San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE)”. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 108, 40-47.
Thomas, M.L., Bangen, K.J., Ardelt, M., & Jeste, D.V. (2017). Development of a 12-item abbreviated Three-Dimensional Wisdom Scale (3D-WS-12): Item selection and psychometric properties. Assessment, 24 (1), 71e82.
Thompson, L. Y., Snyder, C. R., Hoffman, L., Michael, S. T., Rasmussen, H. N., Billings, L. S., et al. (2005). Dispositional forgiveness of self, others, and situations. Journal of Personality, 73, 313-360.
Webster, J. D. (2003). An exploratory analysis of a self-assessed wisdom scale. Journal of Adult Development, 10, 13–22.
Webster, J. D. (2007). Measuring the character strength of wisdom. Journal of Aging and Human Development, 65, 163–138.