It is often said that in the world of investing, the most important personality trait for success is humility, especially the intellectual kind – defined as an awareness of one’s limitations of knowledge and understanding of the world. However, it is also often the hardest to sustain given the job requires one to demonstrate enough conviction to be able to act on ideas which goes against consensus. This article in the NYT talks about how research psychologists are digging deeper into this personality trait with the view to understand if humility can be taught or inculcated in an individual. Research findings show that humility is often corelated with other traits such as curiosity, reflection and open-mindedness. Indeed, another study has shown that it is inversely corelated to political and ideological polarisation i.e, a person with intellectual humility is likely to be a centrist. On that basis, one wonders if there is any humility left in the world. Intellectually humble are also less gullible to propaganda. More importantly, research shows how humility can help with committed relationships and even enhancing mental health.
“…Other research has found that people who score high for humility are less aggressive and less judgmental toward members of other religious groups than are less-humble people, even and especially after being challenged about their own religious views.
“These kinds of findings may account for the fact that people high in intellectual humility are not easily manipulated with regard to their views,” Dr. Krumrei Mancuso said. The findings, she added, may also “help us understand how humility can be associated with holding convictions.”
In the new review paper, Dr. Van Tongeren and his colleagues proposed several explanations for why humility, intellectual or otherwise, is such a valuable facet of personality. A humble disposition can be critical to sustaining a committed relationship. It may also nourish mental health more broadly, providing a psychological resource to shake off grudges, suffer fools patiently and forgive oneself.
Now that humility is attracting some research attention, Dr. Van Tongeren said, there are a number of open questions, including whether it can somehow be taught, or perhaps integrated into psychotherapy. “One of the thorny issues is that the people who are the most open and willing cultivate humility might be the ones who need it the least,” he said. “And vice versa: Those most in need could be the most resistant.”
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