Eudaimonia and Wisdom

  • Alan LawEmail author
  • Ursula M. Staudinger
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


Wisdom is an ancient concept that has been the subject of intense psychological investigation since the 1980s. In this chapter, we summarize major findings from several different approaches to studying this elusive concept, from early work focused on its psychometric location to more recent work considering well-being. Important developments to date include the distinction between personal and general wisdom, and the development of several different approaches to measuring wisdom, both performance-based and self-report. We argue that wisdom is not an outcome of a typical developmental pathway that favors the accumulation of resources to build and maintain hedonic well-being, but is rather sourced from an atypical pathway characterized in particular by high levels of openness. While eudaimonic well-being and our concept of wisdom share many core features, such as high levels of personal growth, we also highlight one of the key distinctions between wisdom and eudaimonia: while eudaimonia encompasses concepts relating to productive self-actualization, we contend that high levels of wisdom involve an approach to seeking good for oneself as well as for others.


Happiness Wellbeing Eudaimonia Wisdom Virtues Morality 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bremen International Graduate School of Social SciencesBremenGermany
  2. 2.Columbia Aging CenterColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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