Intellectual Humility: Science

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This course, Intellectual Humility: Science can be taken as a part of a series that explores the theory, the science and the applied issues surrounding intellectual humility.

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About this Course

It’s clear that the world needs more intellectual humility. But how do we develop this virtue? And why do so many people still end up so arrogant? Do our own biases hold us back from becoming as intellectually humble as we could be—and are there some biases that actually make us more likely to be humble?

Which cognitive dispositions and personality traits give people an edge at being more intellectually humble – and are they stable from birth, learned habits, or something in between? And what can contemporary research on emotions tell us about encouraging intellectual humility in ourselves and others?

Experts in psychology, philosophy, and education are conducting exciting new research on these questions, and the results have important, real-world applications. Faced with difficult questions people often tend to dismiss and marginalize dissent. Political and moral disagreements can be incredibly polarizing, and sometimes even dangerous.

And whether it’s Christian fundamentalism, Islamic extremism, or militant atheism, religious dialogue remains tinted by arrogance, dogma, and ignorance. The world needs more people who are sensitive to reasons both for and against their beliefs, and are willing to consider the possibility that their political, religious, and moral beliefs might be mistaken. The world needs more intellectual humility.

In this course, we will examine the following major questions about the science of intellectual humility:

  • How do we become intellectually humble?
  • What can human cognition tell us about intellectual humility?
  • How does arrogance develop, and how can we become more open-minded?
  • How do emotions affect our ability to be intellectually humble?

All lectures are delivered by leading specialists, and the course is organised around a number of interesting readings and practical assignments which will help you address issues related to humility in your daily life.

In the previous course on the theory behind intellectual humility, we considered how to define intellectual humility, the nature of an intellectual virtue, and how we know who is intellectually humble. If you are interested, complete all three courses to gain a broader understanding of this fascinating topic.


21 minutes to complete

Getting Started
1 video (Total 1 min), 2 readings
4 hours to complete
Humility, exploration, and the psychology of child development
Dr Cristine Legare argues that humility is intimately connected to a state of openness to new ideas, and looks at how we can foster this in children. It turns out that what psychologists say makes kids better at exploring, explaining and being open, is not necessarily how they’re taught at school!

5 videos (Total 26 min), 5 readings, 5 quizzes

5 hours to complete

Intellectual Humility: Science: What makes us arrogant? Biases, heuristics and cognitive psychology
Professor Frank Keil discusses a number of biases which we all have, and which can make us more arrogant and dogmatic by leading us to think that we know more than we actually do. Can you find examples of those biases in the news, and perhaps even in yourself?

7 videos (Total 51 min), 6 readings, 6 quizzes

5 hours to complete

Dogmatism and open-mindedness in politics, religion, and life
Professor Victor Ottati (like Dr. Legare before) thinks that humility has a lot to do with being open to new ideas and to things we disagree with. He shows how our ability to be open-minded is related to our personal traits and to specific situations. How open-minded do you think you are about politics, religion, and any other ideas you disagree with?

9 videos (Total 62 min), 3 readings, 6 quizzes

5 hours to complete

Intellectual Humility: Science: Humility, emotions and human relations: a view from social psychology
Professor Vasu Reddy suggests that in understanding humility, we should focus on emotions rather than on reason; on what humility feels like, not how we understand it. Humility, she says, is not a special, lofty virtue – it’s a commonplace, everyday thing, and it’s about being open to engagement with others. Could this help you bring more humility to your daily interactions?

8 videos (Total 70 min), 3 readings, 5 quizzes
3 hours to complete

End of course assignments
4 readings

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Mass Communication Student, Federal University, Oye Ekiti and Content Creation Specialist. Join me on Twitter.

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