The nature of cognition
Editor: Robert J. Sternberg
Publisher: MIT Press
Check it Out: BF311 .N37 1999
Most cognitive psychology texts are organized around empirical findings on standard substantive topics such as perception, memory, vision, and language. This book is the first to introduce the study of cognition in terms of the major conceptual themes that underlie virtually all the substantive topics. Taking a dialectical approach, the chapters contrast alternative approaches to the underlying themes (e.g., domain-generality vs. domain-specificity), then show how a synthesis of the two approaches provides the best understanding.
The book is organized into six sections: general issues in cognition, representation and process in cognition, methodology in cognition, kinds of cognition, group and individual differences in cognition, and a conclusion.
Dr. Sternberg’s personal experiences with intelligence testing in elementary school lead him to create his own intelligence test for a 7 th grade science project. He happened to find theStanford-Binet scales in the local library, and with unintentional impertinence, began administering the test to his classmates; his own test, the Sternberg Test of Mental Abilities (STOMA) appeared shortly thereafter ( personal communication, July 29, 2004). In subsequent years he distinguished himself in many domains of psychology, having published influential theories relating to intelligence, creativity, wisdom, thinking styles, love and hate.
Dr. Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of (Successful) Intelligence contends that intelligent behavior arises from a balance between analytical, creative and practical abilities, and that these abilities function collectively to allow individuals to achieve success within particular sociocultural contexts (Sternberg, 1988, 1997, 1999). Analytical abilities enable the individual to evaluate, analyze, compare and contrast information. Creative abilities generate invention, discovery, and other creative endeavors. Practical abilities tie everything together by allowing individuals to apply what they have learned in the appropriate setting. To be successful in life the individual must make the best use of his or her analytical, creative and practical strengths, while at the same time compensating for weaknesses in any of these areas. This might involve working on improving weak areas to become better adapted to the needs of a particular environment, or choosing to work in an environment that values the individual’s particular strengths. For example, a person with highly developed analytical and practical abilities, but with less well-developed creative abilities, might choose to work in a field that values technical expertise but does not require a great deal of imaginative thinking. Conversely, if the chosen career does value creative abilities, the individual can use his or her analytical strengths to come up with strategies for improving this weakness. Thus, a central feature of the triarchic theory of successful intelligence is adaptability-both within the individual and within the individual’s sociocultural context (Cianciolo & Sternberg, 2004).
On the Web:
check out a conversation with Dr. Sternberg on bloggingheads.tv