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A New Way to Become More Open-Minded

For decades academics have argued in circles about the definition of open-mindedness, and what might make a person become less or more open-minded, in part because there’s been no reliable way to measure these things. Recently, however, psychologists have given us a better way to think about open-mindedness — and quantify it. The breakthrough happened when researchers started playing with a concept from religion called “intellectual humility.” Philosophers had been studying why some people stubbornly cling to spiritual beliefs even when presented with evidence that they should abandon them, and why others will instead quickly adopt new beliefs. Intellectual humility, the philosophers said, is the virtue that sits between those two excesses; it’s the willingness to change, plus the wisdom to know when you shouldn’t. A few years ago, scientists from various universities started porting this idea into the realm of everyday psychology.

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