Friday, September 7, 2018


Humility is a characteristic of people who speak and behave as if they truly believe that others are equal in importance to themselves.  Humility involves an accurate appraisal of one’s strengths and weaknesses, culturally defined modesty when sharing with others, and a limited focus on oneself in interpersonal relationships.

We especially recognize humility when people considered important in a society do not act as if other people are less important.  We usually recognize humility by what people say or write but nonverbal actions like ignoring others, pushing people out of the way to grab a better position, or seeking special treatment also reflect a higher sense of self-importance and thus a lack of humility.

Humility as defined by Worthington and Scott (2018) page 4.

Humility has three qualities. Humble people are those who (a) have an
accurate sense of self, know their limitations, and are teachable; (b) present
themselves modestly in ways that do not put others off by arrogance or by
false, insincere modesty or displaying weakness; and (c) are especially oriented
to advancing others—not through groveling weakness but through power
under control, power used to build others up rather than squash them down.

Ev Worthington and Scott Allison (2018) explain that humility can be found in a single act, a temporary state, or identified as a personality trait. A humble act can be as simple as giving up one’s right to a seat or the right to speak. A humble state may be a situational state as in the presence of a respected leader but a state not found in other contexts. A trait is a pattern of behavior, which may be found in various contexts over time.

Three Types of Humility

1. People with cultural humility are open to the ideas, values, and cultures of people in different cultures as well as a recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of one’s own culture.

2. Intellectual humility appears as an appreciation of one’s own abilities and respect for the thoughts and capabilities of others. This contrasts with braggarts, know-it-alls, and those who overclaim their skills.

3. Spiritual humility entails a sense of awe and respect for God or gods and sacred practices such as prayer, baptism, and ceremonies, or sacred objects like altars, writings, and crosses.

Humility is a gateway virtue.

You might be interested -- Humility is Chapter One in Living Well on AMAZON.

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Davis, D. E., Hook, J. N., McAnnally-Linz, R., Choe, E., & Placeres, V. (2017). Humility, religion, and spirituality: A review of the literature. Psychology of Religion And Spirituality9(3), 242-253. doi:10.1037/rel0000111

McElroy-Heltzel, S. E., Davis, D. E., DeBlaere, C., Worthington, E. L., & Hook, J. N. (2018). Embarrassment of riches in the measurement of humility: A critical review of 22 measures. The Journal of Positive Psychology, doi:10.1080/17439760.2018.1460686

Worthington, E. J., & Allison, S. T. (2018). Heroic humility: What the science of humility can say to people raised on self-focus (pp. 91-103). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/0000079-006


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