Intelligence and How to Get It (Nisbett, 2009)

Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count
February 17, 2009

Richard Nisbett talked about his book Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count
(W.W. Norton and Co.; February 2, 2009).
In his book Professor Nisbett contends that a person’s cultural background provides the greatest influence on their potential intelligence. Mr. Nisbett counters the argument that genetics dictates intelligence

Richard Nisbett is a distinguished university professor and a professor in psychology at the University of Michigan.
He is the author of several books, including The Geography of Thought.


Struggle is a predictable part of the learning process

Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning
by Alix Spiegel
November 12, 201

“I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you’re just not very smart,” Stigler says. “It’s a sign of low ability — people who are smart don’t struggle, they just naturally get it, that’s our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity.”

In Eastern cultures, Stigler says, it’s just assumed that struggle is a predictable part of the learning process.
Everyone is expected to struggle in the process of learning, and so struggling becomes a chance to show that you, the student, have what it takes emotionally to resolve the problem by persisting through that struggle.

intellectual struggle

Geography of Thought
March 3, 2003
Richard Nisbett


A high IQ and a subway token will only get you into town

What Does IQ Really Measure?
April 25, 2011

in his 2009 book “Intelligence and How to Get It,” Richard Nisbett, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, argued that differences in IQ scores largely disappear when researchers control for social and economic factors.

Nisbett agrees that the study is “tremendously important in its implications.”
Motivation, along with self-discipline, “are crucial,” Nisbett says.
“A high IQ and a subway token will only get you into town.”

Lex Borghans, an economist at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, who has also studied the relationship between intelligence tests and economic success, says the new report shows that “both intelligence and personality matter.”
Even if native intelligence cannot be increased, Borghans says, “there might be other routes to success.”

this article is based on the original paper:

Telling more than we can know (1977)

Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes.
Psychological Review, 1977, 84, 231-259.
Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D.

Reviews evidence which suggests that there may be little or no direct introspective access to higher order cognitive processes.
Subjects are sometimes (a) unaware of the existence of a stimulus that importantly influenced a response,
(b) unaware of the existence of the response, and
(c) unaware that the stimulus has affected the response.

It is proposed that when people attempt to report on their cognitive processes, that is, on the processes mediating the effects of a stimulus on a response, they do not do so on the basis of any true introspection.
Instead, their reports are based on a priori, implicit causal theories, or judgments about the extent to which a particular stimulus is a plausible cause of a given response.
This suggests that though people may not be able to observe directly their cognitive processes, they will sometimes be able to report accurately about them.
Accurate reports will occur when influential stimuli are salient and are plausible causes of the responses they produce, and will not occur when stimuli are not salient or are not plausible causes.

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