To what extent does intellectual humility contribute to learning new things?
To what extent does intellectual humility contribute to learning new things? Could it be that intellectual humility makes you more likely to seek out new challenges, try harder and persevere in the face of adversity? Tenelle Porter and her colleagues investigated this.
Researchers Dweck & Leggett (1988) introduced the term mastery behaviors. By this they meant behavior that leads to the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. They mainly referred to seeking challenges and persevering after setbacks. Research has shown that a growth mindset contributes to mastery behavior (see e.g. Burnette et al., 2013).
Tenelle Porter and her colleagues (Porter et al., 2020) investigated whether intellectual humility is also a psychological factor predicting mastery behaviors. In their research they defined intellectual humility as the personal awareness of one's own intellectual fallibility and appreciation of the intellect of others.
They conducted five studies to map the role of intellectual humility in mastery behaviors. In Study 1 (N = 142), those with higher intellectual humility invested more effort in learning about a subject they did not initially master.
In Studies 2 (N = 103) and 3 (N = 88), high school students with more intellectual humility had higher mastery responses and more teacher-reported mastery behaviors.
In study 4 (N = 601), intellectually humble high school students showed more mastery behavior on a performance task.
In Study 5 (N = 149), participants, encouraged to be more intellectually humble, invested more effort in learning about a subject they had not mastered initially.
The overall effect size in the studies was 0.17, taking into account growth mindset and gender, suggesting that intellectual humility drives the pursuit of mastery.
This research showed that intellectually humble students sought more challenge, made more effort and persisted more in the face of adversity.
Intellectual humility explains additional variance in mastery behavior over and above a growth mindset and thus adds something meaningful.
It seems wise to encourage intellectual humility in parenting and teaching. It could make a good contribution to learning and performance.