The Table Video

How to Become Intellectually Humble: Peter Hill

July 3, 2019

Becoming intellectual humble starts with a desire and value for truth, and exposing yourself diversity of culture and opinion (the more you are exposed to diverse people, the more you likely you are to be attracted to, or at least tolerant of!, them). Dr. Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso and Dr. Peter Hill discuss pathways to humility.

Transcript:

How can we become humble? What work in psychology directs us to particular practices as very reliable to produce humility?

Well, I think it starts with an attitude, and you may have something more to say about the particular practices, but something that you were already mentioning before about the idea of seeking truth, and I think if your attitude is that you want to seek truth as opposed to that you want to be right, that that goes a long way in being more intellectually humble, and I think that sometimes it’s, you know, we were talking about that idea of does intellectual humility mean that we’re weak or that we don’t have strong convictions, and I think it’s the opposite.

I think that when we’re intellectually humble, that that gives us the strength and the courage to have strong convictions, knowing that it’s okay if we end up learning and growing and getting closer to the truth, that that’s not a threat to our current perspective. And so I think part of the attitude is seeing yourself as a truth-seeker rather than placing your emphasis on yourself as a knower. Because we know that we have limits, our cognitive abilities are limited, and so just having confidence in the truth and wanting to get closer to the truth, I think is a great starting point in terms of increasing intellectual humility.

Yeah. Pete.

I think actually putting people in circumstances where they are around people with different perspectives, with different understandings of things, is often, in a kind of roundabout way, a way that induces humility. Boy, I haven’t thought of it just that way, or I can see if I had been raised with that background, or from that culture. We haven’t talked about cultural humility, but this is often something that people experience when they travel to another culture, that you often see the limits of your own culture and your own way of thinking when you start being involved in other cultures. So I think sometimes it’s just an exposure.

We do know that the more people are exposed to other people, maybe it’s people of different races or different cultures, the more they like those people, okay. And so I think there is this bit of empathy that gets generated, perspective-taking that gets generated, just by simple exposure. And sometimes I feel like, as a church, we tend to huddle together so much, and we don’t think much about our relationships outside of the church, that maybe we can learn some things from those who are outside.

Yeah, in that sense this idea of getting out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself into even possible conflict, with the goal, of course, of being loving and having goals of genuine communication and connecting, but exposing your ideas outside of your norm, outside of your own in group, that looks like that might induce humility.

Yeah, and at the same time I’m a little skeptical. And the reason is that, for instance, I think an intervention that’s designed to make people humble, I’m not so sure that’s gonna work. First of all, there can be such confusion and misunderstanding of what humility is that people think they’re getting more humble when perhaps they’re not. And so I think we have to be very careful. I think it would have to be much more subtle. So the example of exposure to other people is a subtle way that might help develop humility without it being an explicit goal in and of itself.