DO NATIONAL CULTURES OR RELIGIONS SHAPE CONCEPTIONS OF WISDOM?
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The present paper examines the relative influence of religion and nation on conceptions of virtues. More specifically the concept of wisdom was chosen, because it has been considered a crucial human strength across millennia and across nations. Humanities and social sciences students (N = 941) from five nations that have a predominant religion participated in the study. The nations were Ecuador (predominantly Christian), India (predominantly Hindu), and the predominantly Muslim countries Indonesia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In India also a group of Christian and in Indonesia a group of Hindu students participated. Respondents indicated their agreement with different statements about what constitutes wisdom. Factor analysis yielded three interpretable factors on the basis of which three scales were constructed referring to different conceptions of wisdom: serenity reflecting emotional and material detachment, determination referring to perseverance and self-reflection, and altruism referring to the absence of egoistic motives. Analyses of variance and regression analyses showed that the influence of cross-national differences exceeds by far the influence of religion on the conceptions of wisdom. The implications of the findings for the often mentioned clash of religions are discussed. Currently, the influence of religion on the values of immigrants may be overemphasized and other important characteristics may be underestimated.
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