Anastasi Lecture 2015

Intelligence, Culture, and Society

Robert J. Sternberg, Cornell University

September 28, 2015, at 5:30 p.m.
Fordham University LC campus

Who is smarter, a Yup'ik Eskimo child failing in school who can navigate from one village to another during the winter in the frozen tundra of Alaska without any obvious landmarks, or his well-educated non-Yup'ik teacher who would die in the navigational attempt?

I will discuss how psychology has transformed a concept that is primarily invented--intelligence--into one that is treated as though it has been discovered, with largely unfortunate results. I will argue that what we, in the USA, treat as intelligence is a construct that makes some sense within the context of Western-style schools, but not the range of world cultures. Moreover, the concept better characterizes the performance of children than of adults.  I will discuss research performed on five continents and its implications for our understanding of what intelligence is, what we think it is, and how they are related. I further will argue that Binet, up to a point, had the right idea about how to measure intelligence, that Wechsler did not, and that the psychometric enterprise has taught us a great deal about "g" but not so much about intelligence.

Robert J. Sternberg is Professor of Human Development at Cornell University and Honorary Professor of Psychology at Heidelberg University. Formerly he was IBM Professor of Psychology and Education at Yale University. He is a past-president of the American Psychological Association, Eastern Psychological Association, Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Sternberg is the author of over 1500 articles and books and is Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science. He has degrees from Yale, and Stanford, and he holds honorary doctorates from 13 universities. Sternberg's main interests are in intelligence, creativity, wisdom, and styles of thinking and learning.