Contributed Symposium

Adversity and Transformation: A Path to Wisdom?

[Speaker] Aldwin, Carolyn M:1
[Co-author] Igarashi, Heidi A:1, Levenson, Michael R:1
1:Oregon State University (United States of America)

Difficult life events have the potential to prompt contemplation and reflection - both important to the development of wisdom. Yet our understanding of how adversity can facilitate positive human development, especially wisdom, remains incomplete. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with men (n = 14) and women (n= 36), ages 56 - 91 years (M = 71.71; SD = 8.8) who described a challenging life event and its sequelae. Retrospective accounts included events across the life course. Constructivist grounded theory inductively identified patterns of wisdom development following adversity that involved disruptions of a person's assumptive world, cognitive processing, and transactions with the social environment that contributed to meaning finding. Categories of meaning finding included accepting complexity, experiencing compassion through connections with others, knowing one's self, and being comfortable with uncertainty.
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