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Are You Intellectually Humble? 13 Tough Questions

Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso

Reserve the right to change your mind.

Associate Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University
September 17, 2014

For now, we know in part. We see through a glass darkly. How then can we cultivate greater humility when it comes to our beliefs and values? On Monday, we posted an article on Intellectual Humility called “We Know In Part.” Pepperdine’s Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso explained her research, pointing out how it’s confirming philosophical and ethical theories on the place and importance of intellectual humility in a well-lived life.

As with all virtues, there is always place to consider the theoretical and empirical side of things, but we ought also to explore the practical—the ways we can actually become more humble when it comes to our intellectual life. How can we set aside hubris and pride about our knowledge? (However well-educated we may be…) How can we learn to admit we were wrong instead of stubbornly protecting our reputation?

So here are 13 tough questions from Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso to help you get honest about your intellectual character. We hope it offers you some pause and inspires you to reserve the right to change your mind, like Elizabeth does.

For the intellectually brave, write your thoughts in the comments or share your thoughts on our facebook page.

Are You Intellectually Humble? Questions for Personal Reflection

  1. Even when you feel strongly about something, are you still aware that you could be wrong?
  2. Do you trust that truth has nothing to fear from investigation?
  3. When someone disagrees with your beliefs, do you view it as a personal attack? If so, why?
  4. Think of a recent time you became defensive when someone disagreed with you. What may have been underlying your feelings in that moment?
  5. Do you reserve the right to change your mind? Or do you feel weak or ashamed to change a strongly held opinion?
  6. Is it difficult to respect people whose beliefs differ from your own?
  7. What is a specific step you can take to better understand someone who disagrees with you on an important issue?
  8. Do you feel insecure when others disagree with you?
  9. Do you feel like you need to hide past errors in your thinking?
  10. What would it take for you to feel more comfortable acknowledging to others when you’ve been wrong in your thinking?
  11. Do you feel less worthy when you realize you’ve made a mistake in your thinking?
  12. Do you approach others with the idea that you might have something to learn from them?
  13. Are you open to learning new things every day? Even if it means changing previous ideas?

MORE ON HUMILITAS (That’s ‘humility’ in Latin.)