Recognizing that some of your beliefs may be inaccurate can help you learn more and build better relationships, according to Tyrone Sgambati for the Greater Good Science Center.

The science of intellectual humility is growing rapidly, and researchers are beginning to find that this kind of humility has far-reaching benefits, ranging from how we approach learning and respond to failures to how we perceive, and are perceived by, people who are different from us.

Here are just a few ways this mindset can work in your favor.

  1. It helps you learn new things. A series of five studies recently published in the journal “Learning and Individual Differences” found a strong association between students’ intellectual humility and mastery behaviors in the classroom. The study authors believe these findings may be explained by one potential driver of intellectual humility: curiosity. Building on prior evidence, they suggest that people who are intellectually humble may be more genuinely curious and interested in learning, so they are more likely to persist in the face of failure and seek out challenges.
  2. It makes you more likely to investigate further when confronted with opposing views and false information. A study recently published in “Social Psychological and Personality Science” found that intellectually humble people presented with false headlines about COVID-19, such as “mask wearing can be dangerous and ineffective,” were more likely to spend time fact-checking the headline or reading more about the source of the headline.
  3. It might improve your relationships. The benefits of intellectual humility don’t end with how we approach and evaluate knowledge; they may also improve our relationships. Think of it this way: Would you rather have a conversation with someone who is adamant they’re right, with no regard for the quality of their evidence or their limitations, or have one with someone who takes those things into consideration and is open to the possibility they are wrong? What about engaging with someone who sees no value in your opinions and beliefs? Would you expect them to have your best interests in mind? Although it may not be immediately obvious, the link between the two makes a lot of sense, and research has documented that there is a connection between intellectual humility and “prosocial” qualities like empathy and altruism.