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Article

Culture and Intelligence  

Robert J. Sternberg

Intelligence needs to be understood in the cultural contexts in which it is displayed. For one thing, people in different cultures have different conceptions (implicit theories) of what intelligence is. Asian and African cultures tend to have broader and more encompassing views of intelligence than do Western cultures. Asians and Africans place less emphasis on mental speed and more emphasis on social and emotional aspects of behavior, as well as on wisdom. These implicit theories are important because in everyday life, people’s behavior is guided not so much by scores on standardized or other tests but rather by people’s implicit theories. For example, hiring and promotion decisions are usually based on such implicit theories, not on test scores. Studies of performances by people, especially children, in different cultures suggest that the strengths of individuals across cultures are not necessarily well represented by conventional intelligence tests. For example, in some cultures, knowledge of herbal medications used to combat parasitic illnesses, or knowledge of hunting and gathering, or knowledge of how to effectively ice fish, can be more important to assessing intelligence than scores on a standardized test. Eskimo children may know how to navigate across the frozen tundra in the winter without obvious landmarks, yet they may not be able to attain high scores on conventional intelligence tests. Some of those who would score highly on such tests would be unable to do such navigation, to their peril. There is no such thing as a culture-free test of intelligence, and there probably is no test that is genuinely culture-fair either. At best, tests should be culture-relevant, measuring the cognitive and other skills relevant to effectively adapt to particular cultures. These skills are likely to be partially but not fully overlapping across cultures. Thus, intelligence needs to be understood in its cultural contexts, not divorced from such contexts.

Article

Working Memory  

Tom Hartley and Graham J. Hitch

Working memory is an aspect of human memory that permits the maintenance and manipulation of temporary information in the service of goal-directed behavior. Its apparently inelastic capacity limits impose constraints on a huge range of activities from language learning to planning, problem-solving, and decision-making. A substantial body of empirical research has revealed reliable benchmark effects that extend to a wide range of different tasks and modalities. These effects support the view that working memory comprises distinct components responsible for attention-like control and for short-term storage. However, the nature of these components, their potential subdivision, and their interrelationships with long-term memory and other aspects of cognition, such as perception and action, remain controversial and are still under investigation. Although working memory has so far resisted theoretical consensus and even a clear-cut definition, research findings demonstrate its critical role in both enabling and limiting human cognition and behavior.

Article

Electronic Communication  

Anita Blanchard, Jordan Duran, and Jeremy Lewis

Electronic communication is the ability for people to interact through technology. Some researchers focus on the characteristics of the technology. Yet it is the humans who determine how electronic communication is used and how it affects individuals and groups. Therefore, the field of social psychology is particularly needed to contribute to the understanding of electronic communication. Electronic communication currently ranges from email to social media to artificial intelligence. It affects individuals, their relationships with others, their personal identity and group identification, and even community functioning. New communication technologies will continue to emerge. Therefore, attention from social psychologistsis essential to understand the positive and negative effects of electronic communication on people.

Article

Cerebral Palsy From a Developmental Psychology Perspective  

Karen Lidzba

Cerebral palsy (CP) is defined as non-progressive damage to the brain at or around birth, which leads to varying symptoms depending on the extent and location of damage. The leading symptom is sensory-motor impairment of varying expression, but additional perceptual, cognitive, and socio-emotional symptoms are common. CP can be divided into four types, with bilateral spastic being by far the most frequent, followed by the unilateral spastic, the dyskinetic, and the ataxic variants. The intellectual, linguistic, and cognitive profile of CP is extremely variant, but all qualities correlate more or less with CP type and motor impairment. Early diagnosis is important since early intervention may promote all developmental dimensions. Generally, individuals with unilateral spastic CP have the best (almost normal) intellectual, linguistic, and cognitive outcomes, while those with bilateral spastic CP fare the worst. Language perception is often an individual strength, while language expression, and particularly speech, may be heavily impaired. Attention and executive functions are often impaired as compared to typically developing controls, even in those children with normal intellectual functioning. The same holds true for visual perceptual functions, which are impaired in almost half of all children and adolescents with CP. The potential neuropsychological dysfunctions are a risk factor for arithmetic functions and literacy. Obstacles to participate in society are high for individuals with CP and heavily dependent on their motor, language, intellectual, and cognitive functions. However, quality of life is good for most children and adolescents, and they develop a sound self-concept. On the other side, bully experience is more common than amongst typically developing children and is associated with behavior problems and executive dysfunction. The development of children and adolescents with CP is determined by a complex interplay between physical, intellectual, and neuropsychological functions.

Article

Scientific Racism and North American Psychology  

Andrew S. Winston

The use of psychological concepts and data to promote ideas of an enduring racial hierarchy dates from the late 1800s and has continued to the present. The history of scientific racism in psychology is intertwined with broader debates, anxieties, and political issues in American society. With the rise of intelligence testing, joined with ideas of eugenic progress and dysgenic reproduction, psychological concepts and data came to play an important role in naturalizing racial inequality. Although racial comparisons were not the primary concern of most early mental testing, results were employed to justify beliefs regarding Black “educability” and the dangers of Southern and Eastern European immigration. Mainstream American psychology became increasingly liberal and anti-racist in the late 1930s and after World War II. However, scientific racism did not disappear and underwent renewal during the civil rights era and again during the 1970s and 1990s, Intelligence test scores were a primary weapon in attempts to preserve segregated schools and later to justify economic inequality. In the case of Henry Garrett, Arthur Jensen, and Philippe Rushton, their work included active, public promotion of their ideas of enduring racial differences, and involvement with publications and groups under control of racial extremists and neo-Nazis. Despite 100 years of strong critiques of scientific racism, a small but active group of psychologists helped revive vicious 19th-century claims regarding Black intelligence, brain size, morality, criminality, and sexuality, presented as detached scientific facts. These new claims were used in popular campaigns that aimed to eliminate government programs, promote racial separation, and increase immigration restriction. This troubling history raises important ethical questions for the discipline.

Article

Cultural Competence  

Soon Ang, Kok Yee Ng, and Thomas Rockstuhl

Cultural competence refers to an individual’s potential to function effectively in intercultural situations. The myriad conceptualizations of cultural competence can be broadly classified as intercultural traits (enduring personal characteristics that describe what a person typically does in intercultural situations); attitudes (perceptions and evaluations of other cultures); and capabilities (what a person can do to function effectively in intercultural contexts). In terms of empirical evidence, a review of existing report-based instruments (i.e., measures that involve self- or observer-perceptions of cultural competence) shows that only three instruments (Cultural Intelligence Survey, CQS; Multicultural Personality Questionnaire, MPQ; and Intercultural Adjustment Potential Scale, ICAPS) demonstrate strong psychometric properties and incremental predictive validity across cultures. Notably, the CQS has the most extensive evidence on its predictive validity. The field is also seeing an emergence of performance-based measures of cultural competence in the form of situation judgment tests. Finally, there is considerable research on interventions to grow cultural competence and intelligence in individuals. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews generally concluded that training enhances the development of cultural competence and intercultural effectiveness. Effect sizes, however, vary depending on training and trainee characteristics. The field of cultural competence is at an exciting nexus of globalization, increasing diversification within nations, and technological advancements. We suggest that future research should (1) extend our conceptualization of cultural competence to include managing vertical differences rooted in power and status disparity; (2) expand our measurement from psychometric approaches to the use of multimodal analytics; and (3) expand our criterion space of cultural learning.

Article

Working Memory and Cognitive Aging  

Paul Verhaeghen

Working memory as a temporary buffer for cognitive processing is an essential part of the cognitive system. Its capacity and select aspects of its functioning are age sensitive, more so for spatial than verbal material. Assumed causes for this decline include a decline in cognitive resources (such as speed of processing), and/or a breakdown in basic control processes (resistance to interference, task coordination, memory updating, binding, and/or top-down control as inferred from neuroimaging data). Meta-analyses suggest that a decline in cognitive resources explains much more of the age-related variance in true working memory tasks than a breakdown in basic control processes, although the latter is highly implicated in tasks of passive storage. The age-related decline in working memory capacity has downstream effects on more complex aspects of cognition (episodic memory, spatial cognition, and reasoning ability). Working memory remains plastic in old age, and training in working memory and cognitive control processes yields near transfer effects, but little evidence for strong far transfer.

Article

Biographies of a Scientific Subject: The Intelligence Test  

Annette Mülberger

The intelligence test consists of a series of exercises designed to measure intelligence. Intelligence is generally understood as mental capacity that enables a person to learn at school or, more generally, to reason, to solve problems, and to adapt to new (challenging) situations. There are many types of intelligence tests depending on the kind of person (age, profession, culture, etc.) and the way intelligence is understood. Some tests are general, others are focused on evaluating language skills, others on memory, on abstract and logical thinking, or on abilities in a wide variety of areas, such as, for example, recognizing and matching implicit visual patterns. Scores may be presented as an IQ (intelligence quotient), as a mental age, or simply as a point on a scale. Intelligence tests are instrumental in ordering, ranking, and comparing individuals and groups. The testing of intelligence started in the 19th century and became a common practice in schools and universities, psychotechnical institutions, courts, asylums, and private companies on an international level during the 20th century. It is generally assumed that the first test was designed by the French scholars A. Binet and T. Simon in 1905, but the historical link between testing and experimenting points to previous tests, such as the word association test. Testing was practiced and understood in different ways, depending not only on the time, but also on the concrete local (cultural and institutional) conditions. For example, in the United States and Brazil, testing was immediately linked to race differences and eugenic programs, while in other places, such as Spain, it was part of an attempt to detect “feebleness” and to grade students at certain schools. Since its beginning, the intelligence test received harsh criticism and triggered massive protests. The debate went through the mass media, leading to the infamous “IQ test wars.” Thus, nowadays, psychologists are aware of the inherent danger of cultural discrimination and social marginalization, and they are more careful in the promotion of intelligence testing. In order to understand the role the intelligence test plays in today’s society, it is necessary to explore its history with the help of well-documented case studies. Such studies show how the testing practice was employed in national contexts and how it was received, used, or rejected by different social groups or professionals. Current historical research adopts a more inclusive perspective, moving away from a narrative focused on the role testing played in North-America. New work has appeared that explores how testing was taking place in different national and cultural environments, such as Russia (the former Soviet Union), India, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Argentina, Chile, and many other places.

Article

Emotions at Work  

Neal M. Ashkanasy and Agata Bialkowski

Beginning in the 1980s, interest in studying emotions in organizational psychology has been on the rise. Prior to 2003, however, researchers in organizational psychology and organizational behavior tended to focus on only one or two levels of analysis. Ashkanasy argued that emotions are more appropriately conceived of as spanning all levels of organizational analysis, and introduced a theory of emotions in organizations that spans five levels of analysis. Level 1 of the model refers to within-person temporal variations in mood and emotion, which employees experience in their everyday working lives. Level 2 refers to individual differences in emotional intelligence and trait affectivity (i.e., between-person emotional variables). Level 3 relates to the perception of emotions in dyadic interactions. Level 4 relates to the emotional states and process that take place between leaders and group members. Level 5 involves organization-wide variables. The article concludes with a discussion of how, via the concept of emotional intelligence, emotions at each level of the model form an integrated picture of emotions in organizational settings.

Article

Development of Judgment, Decision Making, and Rationality  

Maggie Toplak and Jala Rizeq

There is a long tradition of studying children’s reasoning and thinking in cognitive development and education. The initial studies in the cognitive development of reasoning were motivated by Piagetian models, and developmental age was thought to bring the gradual onset of logical thinking. The introduction of heuristics and biases tasks in adults and dual process models have provided new perspectives for understanding the development of reasoning, judgment, and decision-making skills. These heuristics and biases tasks provided a way to operationalize the systematic errors that people make in their judgments. Dual process models have advanced our understanding of the basic processes implicated in both optimal and non-optimal responders on several types of paradigms, including heuristics and biases tasks and classic reasoning paradigms. Importantly, these skills and competencies are generally separable from the types of higher cognition assessed on measures of intelligence and executive function task performance. Given the history of the study of reasoning in cognitive development, there is a need to integrate our understanding across these somewhat separate literatures. This is especially true given the opposite predictions that seem to be suggested in these different research traditions. Specifically, there is a focus on increasing logical development in the classic cognitive developmental literature and alternatively, there has been a focus on systematic errors in judgment and decision-making in the study of reasoning in adults. This article provides an integration of the two aforementioned perspectives that are rooted in different empirical and historical traditions. These considerations are addressed by drawing upon their research traditions and by summarizing more recent developmental work that has investigated these paradigms.