The Table Video

Peter C. Hill & Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso

Measuring Humility

Professor of Psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University
Associate Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University
July 2, 2019

Intellectual humility is difficult to measure, so psychologists use a combination of methods to develop valid data on measuring it in individuals. Dr. Elizabeth Krumrei-Mancuso and Dr. Peter Hill discuss psychological strategies for measuring and marking humility.


I wonder if you might just introduce us to the idea of how would you measure humility? This is something that you’re both interested in and working on. How do you measure something like humility? That seems so difficult, especially when you’re working with self-reporting, self-assessment or even with respect to others, we’ve talked about this, managing image. What if I’ve just tricked everybody into thinking I’m humble? What are you guys looking for when you’re looking for humility in someone and trying to measure it?

Yeah, I think that is really complicated. How do we measure humility? And I think that that’s why humility as a virtue has been slower to develop in psychological research because it’s so hard to pinpoint and when someone tells you they’re humble then are they humble or are they not humble? So that’s the tricky part about using self report and so you mentioned there are some other options. One thing is you can ask people to talk about their own thoughts, about how humble they are, how intellectually humble they are. There are other options. You can have other people report, or what we call round-robin reporting where you have people in groups get to know one another and then each person reports on each other person and then you calculate a group consensus. And so, that’s something that’s a little bit more helpful than just having one other person observe because intellectual humility can be very difficult, sometimes to observe in someone else. What I like about the self report aspect of it is that you can get out some of the intrapsychic, underlying thoughts, and opinions and motivations related to intellectual humility that on the outside might just look like someone being friendly, or someone being introverted, or someone being tired. We know that other reports from research sometimes confuses different constructs with intellectual humility, versus the person themselves maybe has a little bit more insight into that. I think the gold standard is to use multiple methods so to ask people a variety of questions, getting at describing how you think of intellectual humility having people rate that, but then also having other people report and using the group consensus reports for intellectual humility or humility generally.

Pete, what do you–

Well, one thought that came to my mind, actually when you were talking, Evan, about when you give this little exercise in the classes that you teach would be to, once students groan about having to present arguments for the other side, have them right then assess, well how strongly do they resist this? And again, it’s a self reporting but it might be a little bit more of a subtle self reporting. We’re not asking now directly about humility but we’re talking about a marker of humility. If we can be creative, and there are some creative attempts to try to find what are some ways in which humility should be playing itself out? And so little things like that. We’ve thought about all sorts of things like how many trophies does a kid keep up in his room? How many diplomas do we keep on our walls? Whatever it might be that might be indicators. We’ve not convinced that we’re really getting at humility with all of that, but at least we’re thinking about it.

About the Authors