How Practical and Creative Intelligence Determine Success in Life
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 A fine addition to the growing literature that refutes the long-held idea that there is such a thing as ``general'' intelligence and that it can be quantified. A professor of psychology and education at Yale and a prolific writer (The Triarchic Mind, not reviewed, etc.), Sternberg strongly and persuasively challenges the usefulness of IQ, SAT, and other tests that, he notes, measure only knowledge that is ``inert'' (i.e., decontextualized and often quickly forgotten). The type of intelligence that helps people succeed in life requires imaginative approaches to problems that are far more ``ill-structured'' than those found in the largely one-dimensional, multiple-choice approach of standardized instruments for quantifying intelligence. Successful intelligence is more multifaceted; it includes elements of creativity, adaptability, practicality, intellectual risk- taking, interpersonal skills, and perseverance. In addition, our standard intelligence tests often are culturally biased and favor those with good test-taking skills. In making his argument, Sternberg also demolishes the Herrnstein/Murray hypothesis in The Bell Curve that much of intelligence is inherited; on the contrary, he notes, intelligence is ``incremental'' (our ability to learn grows with learning itself). With the exception of some repetition and some self-evident assertions in a concluding chapter that delineates 20 aspects of successful intelligence (does it really need stating that ``successfully intelligent people spread themselves neither too thin nor too thick''?), Sternberg writes clearly and gracefully, holding the reader's attention by peppering his theoretical material with interesting anecdotal examples. Like the writings of Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman, among others, this book will prove helpful to a wide range of readers, from professional educators to mental health professionals, business managers, and parents in appreciating just how multifaceted intelligence is and how it can be better nurtured in each person. (Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club altnerate selection)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-81410-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996


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