Be it ever so humble: Proposing a dual-dimension account and measurement of humility


Journal Article

© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. What does it mean to be humble? We argue that humility is an epistemically and ethically aligned state of awareness–the experience of ourselves as a small part of a larger universe and as one among a host of other morally relevant beings. So conceived, humility can be operationalized and measured along the dual dimensions of low self-focus and high other-focus and is distinct from other related constructs (e.g., modesty and open-mindedness). We discuss our newly developed scale (Study 1 and 2), and provide preliminary validation using self-report (Study 3) and behavioral measures (Study 4), showing that humility is related to people’s general ethical orientation (e.g., empathy, universalism/benevolence, and civic responsibility), their well-being (e.g., sense of autonomy, life-purpose, and secure attachment), mature religious beliefs/practices, and reactions to disagreement–specifically, people high in humility sat closer and less angled away from their conversation partner with whom they disagreed. Together, this provides support for our new Dual-Dimension Humility Scale.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wright, JC; Nadelhoffer, T; Thomson Ross, L; Sinnott-Armstrong, W

Published Date

  • January 2, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 17 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 92 - 125

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-8876

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1529-8868

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/15298868.2017.1327454

Citation Source

  • Scopus