Pepperdine University

The Development and Validation of a Scale of Intellectual Humility

Elizabeth Krumrei



By helping a person transcend the self, humility can function as a natural source of virtuous behavior. Parallels exist within the intellectual domain. Intellectual humility involves a humble stance in developing and maintaining beliefs. It includes accepting the limits of one’s knowledge and considering one’s beliefs within a larger context. It is a quality that holds unique power to promote tolerance, collaboration, civil discourse, and other factors closely associated with human thriving. However, understanding the unique potential intellectual humility has to promote wellbeing requires a more precise understanding of what intellectual humility is and how it can be quantified. There are many fruitful avenues of exploration within the young science of intellectual humility. Most will require a comprehensive and psychometrically strong measure of intellectual humility, which is currently lacking. Therefore, we propose to develop and validate a measure of intellectual humility that is founded on a robust, theoretically grounded understanding of intellectual humility. We will base the measure on literature reviews, interviews, pilot testing, exploratory factor analysis, and confirmatory factor analyses. We will evaluate how the scale relates to similar measures and whether it is able to differentiate between those known to be high and low in intellectual humility (based on peer ratings). In our studies to develop the measure, we will empirically examine whether intellectual humility is general or domain specific and whether it is a stable characteristic of a person or variable based on circumstances.Once the scale has been developed and validated, we will make use of it to assess whether there are gender differences in intellectual humility and how intellectual humility relates to a range of psychological, cognitive, and social variables (including other intellectual virtues, cognitive skills and abilities, general human virtues, aspects of human thriving, mental health, personality, academic motivation, and legal attitudes). This will offer valuable insight about intellectual humility. It will also lay the groundwork for research on how intellectual humility impacts lives and relationships and what factors promote and inhibit intellectual humility.

We intend to disseminate our research findings to psychologists, philosophers, theologians, and the general population through conference presentations, journal publications, articles in popular and topical magazines, interviews for news outlets, and blog posts. Our proposed research fits well with the goals of positive psychology, by investigating intellectual humility as a variable that has power to foster positive intrapersonal and interpersonal characteristics. We believe our studies will make a valuable contribution to positive psychology by offering a way to quantify intellectual humility and the potential it has to offer humanity. We hope that our research will generate meaningful conversations and that the scale we develop will be useful in research of intellectual humility for years to come.