“Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.” -Benjamin Franklin

COMMENT: It is commonly believed that we get wiser with age, but studies from the Berlin wisdom paradigm have found there is actually a zero correlation between age and wisdom-related knowledge and judgement. As the graph shows, older individuals, on average, are no wiser than younger ones (after the age of 20). One theory is that, while age certainly brings wisdom-friendly changes (e.g., perspective and personal growth), it also leads to changes that may hamper wisdom (e.g., declined processing speed and increased rigidity). Thus, as Benjamin Franklin suggests, the wisdom-related benefits of life experience may be offset by the concomitant decline in cognitive ability that inevitably accompanies the accumulation of such experience. So next time someone older and “wiser” tries to give you advice, kindly refer them to this graph.

Older but not wiser

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