In one series of experiments, Elizabeth Krumrei Mancuso of Pepperdine University scored volunteers on a measure of what she called intellectual humility — an awareness of how incomplete and fallible their views on political and social issues were. This kind of humility was not related to I.Q. measures or political affiliation, she found; it was strongly linked to curiosity, reflection and open-mindedness.

In another, ongoing study, Dr. Krumrei Mancuso had 587 American adults complete questionnaires intended to measure levels of intellectual humility. The participants rated how much they agreed with various statements, including “I feel small when others disagree with me on topics that are close to my heart,” and “For the most part, others have more to learn from me than I have to learn from them.” Those who scored highly on humility — not that they’d boast about it — also scored lower on measures of political and ideological polarization, whether conservative or liberal.

Other research has found that people who score high for humility are less aggressive and less judgmental toward members of other religious groups than are less-humble people, even and especially after being challenged about their own religious views.