Wise Reasoning Benefits from Emodiversity, Irrespective of Emotional Intensity
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Description: The role of emotions in wise reasoning is not well understood. On the one hand, work on emotional regulation suggests downregulating intense emotions may lead to wiser reasoning. On the other hand, emerging work suggests recognizing and balancing emotions provides critical insights into life experiences, suggesting an alternative path to wiser reasoning. We present a series of observational, diary, and experimental studies (N = 3,678) addressing these possibilities, examining how wisdom-related characteristics of reasoning—epistemic humility, recognition of a world in flux/change, self-transcendence, recognition of diverse perspectives on an issue, search for integration of diverse perspectives/compromise—relate to emotional intensity and to emodiversity (i.e., emotional richness and evenness) in a given situation. Across five studies—testing wisdom nominees and examining individual differences and manipulated wise reasoning, it appeared in conjunction with emodiversity, independent of downregulated emotional intensity. The positive association between emodiversity and wisdom-related characteristics occurred consistently for daily challenges, unresolved interpersonal conflicts, as well as political conflicts. The relationship between emotional intensity and wisdom-related characteristics was less systematic, with some studies suggesting a positive (rather than negative) association between emotional intensity and wisdom. Together, these results demonstrate that wise reasoning does not necessarily require uniform emotional downregulation. Instead, wise reasoning can also benefit from a rich and balanced emotional life.