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University of Edinburgh

Intellectual Humility: Science

University of Edinburgh via Coursera


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 the 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. This course can be taken as a part of a series which explores the theory, the science and the applied issues surrounding intellectual humility. 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. Look for: • Intellectual Humility: Theory - • Intellectual Humility: Practice -


  • Getting Started
  • 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!
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • End of course assignments

Taught by

Dr Ian Church, Professor Duncan Pritchard and Dr. Emma Gordon


5.0 rating, based on 9 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 178 ratings

Start your review of Intellectual Humility: Science

  • While the first course in the series ("Intellectual Humility: Theory") provides working definitions as a reliable frame of reference for both the course series creators and learners, this course offers empirical underpinnings of the virtue (or the lack thereof) that is intellectual humility. I personally think that while everyone should take this course, its lessons may hit closer to home among those with advanced higher education who tend to be less sensitive to the flaws and shortcomings of their faculties. Regardless of our standing in life, our biological commonalities being part of the same species leave room for "errors" that can wreak havoc if left unchecked.
  • This is the second course of the intellectual humility. It is another great in which we explore it throughout philosophy and psychology.
  • Anonymous
    The course starts from the basic language of logical and critical thinking and explains with abundance of details how these processes could go wrong and what the causes are. Then it provides examples of cogent present day issues where intellectual humility would make a difference
  • Profile image for Jorge Tierno Rey
    Jorge Tierno Rey
    This course explains a lot of things about Intellectual Humility regarding its origin and causes in order to understand how it develops, and how to try to avoid it. For sure becoming intellectually humble means a lot for anybody trying to be a better person.
    I am not a guy of Philosophy or Psychology, but this course is easy to follow, includes a lot of information, and you can learn a lot.
    What I like more about this course is the great quality of video lectures, not only their content but also their design and animation.
    Don't hesitate to take this course and learn how to become a better person, and a better learner.
  • Anonymous
    Thoroughly enjoyed this course. Followed on from the Theory of Humility and took the learning a little deeper into this subject. The words used in the advertising sure ring true. "The world needs more people who are intellectual humble."
    This course helps you to understand why and to find ways to adjust your own life.
  • Anonymous
    Firstly, the subject matter is important because arrogance pervades much of what comes out of the media, business, politics, in fact every discourse, probably due to too much "education".
    Secondly, the course was well structured and I can honestly say I learned something new/
  • This was an intellectually stimulating course. It encourages you to not only look at how others behave but also how you behave when in certain conversations. I recommend this course for anyone interested in obtaining a new view of the conversation.
  • Anonymous
    An exceptional and diverse faculty are able to bring a unique understanding of cultural biases and behaviors. A great course for anyone who is genuinely interested in developing listening skills for those times when listening is hard.
  • Anonymous
    This was a really informative course, and it really helped to draw attention to the various biases and heuristics which make people arrogant. Very topical, too!

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