Together with the positive psychology movement, the virtues that represent the strong side of the human being have been investigated intensively in the field of psychology. Although the virtue of humility has been thought over for many years, it is a new topic in empirical research. Several factors come to the fore in the largely neglect of humility. The first is a general factor that prevents the research of virtues in the field of psychology. This factor is that virtues are linked to religion and values (Seligman, 2002; Tangney, 2000, 2002). As a field, for many years, mainstream psychology has avoided value-laden issues such as religion, morality, and virtue. The next two factors encountered in the neglect and the slow pace of humility studies is directly related to humility. In this context, the second factor is the lack of a clear definition agreed on humility (Davis, Worthington, ve diğerleri, 2010). The third factor that the study of humility has been slow is that not being agreed on an acceptable way to measure humility (Davis, Worthington, ve diğerleri, 2010; Tangney, 2000, 2002). Due to the insufficient development of studies on humility, the role of humility in improving psychological health in the literature has not been clearly established.
Within the scope of this research, humility is primarily addressed from a psychological and religious perspective. In the applied part of the research, the relationship and interaction between humility and psychological well-being and subjective well-being are examined. The predictive effect of humility on psychological well-being and life satisfaction which are symptoms of mental health is investigated.
With the recent studies carried out in the field of psychology, significant advances have been made in the conceptualization and measurement of humility. In the recent psychological researches (Davis ve diğerleri, 2011; Davis, Worthington, ve diğerleri, 2010; Hook ve Davis, 2014; Worthington ve Allison, 2018; Worthington ve diğerleri, 2017) about humility have focused on three main components of humility. First, humility involves an accurate assessment of self, including an awareness of one’s limitations. Second, humility involves a modest self-presentation. Third, humility involves an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented rather than self-oriented. In addition, developments in the conceptualization of humility encourage the measurement of humility with well-established assessment tools using different measurement techniques.
On the other hand, humility has been a central subject of religious thought for centuries. The religious perspective on humility often portrays it as a virtue. Indeed, most of the world religions promote humility as a virtue (Bollinger ve Hill, 2012; Hill ve Laney, 2016; Peterson ve Seligman, 2004; Woodruff ve diğerleri, 2014). For example, considering the three major theistic religions -Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it is seen that humility is an important virtue, appreciated and recommended to their followers.
The relationship between humility and well-being has begun to be the subject of empirical studies with the development of humility scientific literature. Few empirical studies on humility and well-being contain clues that there is a positive relationship between both variables.
The Present Study
Considering the link between humility and well-being in prior studies and the discussions that is provided above, two main hypotheses will be evaluated for the purpose of the current study:
1. There is a positive relationship between humility and psychological well-being.
2. There is a positive relationship between humility and satisfaction with life.
In addition, the following hypotheses are evaluated based on demographic variables:
1. The level of humility of women is higher than that of men.
2. As the grade level increases, the level of humility decreases.
3. As the general state of health increases, the level of humility increases.
The sample of this study consisted of 2404 students who were selected by random sampling method among undergraduate students in different departments of Sakarya University in the 2018-2019 academic years. 43.8% (1052) of the participants were male and 56.2% (1352) were female. The average age was 20.76 and the standard deviation is 2.32. The age range is 17-41.
The Dispositional Humility Scale, The Psychological Well-Being Scale, and The Satisfaction with Life Scale were used to collect data in the current study. The Dispositional Humility Scale was developed by Bollinger, Kopp, Hill and Williams (2006). This scale was translated into Turkish by Saygın (2014). The Cronbach’s alpha value of the scale was found as .78 in current study which is similar to the one (.80) which was found by Saygın. The Psychological Well-Being Scale was developed by Ryff and Keyes (1995). This scale was standardized into Turkish by İmamoğlu. The Cronbach’s alpha value of the scale was found as .72 in this study. The Satisfaction with Life Scale was developed by Diener, Emmons, Larsen and Griffin (1985). The Cronbach’s alpha value of the scale, which was standardized to Turkish by Imamoglu, was found to be .87 in the current study.
This study was approved by Ethics Committee, Sakarya University. Participants were recruited from undergraduate classes. The research was applied to the students who want to participate voluntarily.
Results and Discussion
The current research results show that the level of humility of women is higher than that of men. Similarly, the scientific literature of humility indicates that the level of humility of women is higher than that of men. According to the results of the research, it was found that the humility level decreased significantly as the grade level increased. These findings lead us to consider the relationship between the level of knowledge and humility. The knowledge level increases as the grade level progresses. According to the data reached, high knowledge does not bring a high level of humility, but a low level of humility.
According to the results of the analysis, a positive and significant relationship (r = .20; p <.01) was found between humility and general physical health status. This result shows that individuals who evaluate themselves as healthier generally tend to act more modestly.
As a result of the analysis, it has been determined that there was a moderate positive and significant relationship (r = 0.495, p <.01) between humility and psychological well-being. In addition, it has been found that there are positive and significant relationships between humility and all sub-dimensions of psychological well-being. The results clearly show that the level of psychological well-being increases as the level of humility increases.
In addition, as a result of the analysis, it was found that there is a low level of positive and significant relationship between humility and satisfaction with life (r = 0.112, p <.01). This result shows that as the level of humility increases, the level of subjective well-being increases, albeit at a low level.
Virtues are becoming an important research topic in psychology. However, research on humility has not progressed fast like research on many other virtues. Difficulties arising from the definition and measurement of humility can be cited as the reason for slow progress. But these difficulties have been overcome with recent studies. Along with recent developments, humility has been started to be researched by associating it with different areas such as health.
Current and previous research results show that there is a positive relationship between humility and general physical health. However, data showing the relationship between humility and physical health indicate that this relationship is weaker and indirect than the relationship between mental health and humility.
It appears that humility is positively associated with both variants of well-being, that is psychological well-being and subjective well-being. However, it has been found that the relationship between humility and psychological well-being is consistently positive and stronger than the relationship between humility and subjective well-being. These results can be explained by the eudaimonic and hedonic conceptualization on which psychological well-being and subjective well-being are based. Subjective well-being measurement tools are based on a hedonic conceptualization of well-being, and psychological well-being measuring tools are based on the eudaimonic conceptualization of well-being.
Consequently, according to the scientific literature between humility and health, humility is a characteristic that supports human development. Increasing research shows that more humble people tend to have better physical and mental health than less humble ones.