Research on viewpoint diversity has increased rapidly in recent years. But that of Tenelle Porter, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, and Karina Schumann, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, stood out due to its broad applicability to our mission. For this achievement, the HxA Open Mind Awards Committee has recognized Porter and Schumann as co-winners of the Exceptional Scholarship Award. Porter’s research examines ways to promote positive development across all stages of life while Schumann’s research focuses upon conflict resolution and intellectual humility, religion, and motivation.
Together, they authored “Intellectual humility and openness to the opposing view” [PDF] for the quarterly journal Self and Identity. It was an investigation into the limits of personal knowledge and the degree to which we can appreciate the intellectual strengths of others.
The existing background research, organized into sections on 1) conceptualizing intellectual humility, 2) intellectual humility and barriers to openness during disagreements, and 3) fostering intellectual humility, leads into four new studies conducted by Porter and Schumann to test their hypothesis that intellectual humility is associated with greater openness to opposing perspectives. The abstract reads in part:
In Studies 1 and 2, participants with higher intellectual humility were more open to learning about the opposition’s views during imagined disagreements. In Study 3, those with higher intellectual humility exposed themselves to a greater proportion of opposing political perspectives. In Study 4, making salient a growth mindset of intelligence boosted intellectual humility, and, in turn, openness to opposing views.
The results underscore the ways that recognizing the limitations of our own knowledge renders us more able to listen to others. From the conclusion:
“Promoting intellectual humility may thus offer one path to making disagreements more constructive, and our research suggests that teaching people a malleable view of intelligence may be one promising way to foster intellectual humility and its associated benefits.”
The work of Porter and Schumann provides further scholarly evidence of the value of viewpoint diversity, promoting a mindset of intellectual humility and, thereby, fostering a culture of open inquiry. Our HxA research summary of their paper is available here.
Opinions expressed are those of the author(s). Publication does not imply endorsement by Heterodox Academy or any of its members. We welcome your comments below. Feel free to challenge and disagree, but please try to model the sort of respectful and constructive criticism that makes viewpoint diversity most valuable. Comments that include obscenity or that sound like a tirade or screed are likely to be deleted.