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This project primarily is focused on developing a bridge towards applied research on intellectual humility. Intellectual humility (IH) consists of a suite of dispositions that enable a person to be attentive to and to own one’s intellectual limitations, such as cognitive mistakes, deficits in intellectual skills, and ignorance and gaps in knowledge. Research on IH has developed quickly in the past few years, in part because IH is related to psychological characteristics of longstanding interest to social and cognitive psychologists. Most studies have focused on measurement issues, with very little work testing theories of how IH works, especially appropriate tests of mediation. Compared to eminently successful areas of investment in positive psychology, such as gratitude or forgiveness, the initial work on IH has yet to attract investment from applied researchers. This is an important gap because applied research is critical to move past cross-sectional correlational designs to test theory on how IH works, to identify causal mechanisms, and to ensure that the emerging science of IH aligns with contexts that matter.


The central goal of this project is to catalyze applied intervention research on IH through a Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP will focus on testing theories of change related to the practice of IH, which ought to help address a critical question for IH scholars: How can we promote the practice of IH to help people navigate conflicts in areas where they hold strong commitments? Accordingly, project has two parts:

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The first part is an RFP that focuses on three particular goals: (1) Prioritizing rigor in testing causal theory regarding IH, (2) prioritizing projects that study IH when it is difficult to practice under the duress of commitment, (3) strengthening the network of early career scholars doing work on IH.  There are two portfolios within the RFP, the Mechanisms of Change Portfolio and the Interventions Portfolio. For the Mechanisms of Change Portfolio, evaluative criteria will place greatest priority on internal validity and testing causal theory related to IH with very high standards for testing mediation. The projects in this track will seek to strengthen the conceptual and empirical foundation for a transition to applied research on IH. In the Interventions Portfolio, the projects will balance internal and external validity, sometimes in a sequence of multiple studies. The promotion of effective strategies to cultivate motivation and commitment to engage a life-long process of learning, growth, and change is of particular interest.

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The second part involves three internal projects. These projects align with the two portfolios of the RFP. Project 1 involves drawing on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to develop and test three workbook interventions that focus on practicing IH in the face of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and contextual factors that make IH difficult to practice (Interventions Portfolio). Project 2 investigates IH in the context of religious leader formation using a mixed-method longitudinal study (Mechanisms of Change Portfolio). Project 3 considers IH in the context of business and leadership (Interventions Portfolio). This latter project translates what we know about IH in leadership and tests an intervention in MBA students in the United States and China.

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