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|Robert Jeffrey Sternberg|
December 8, 1949 |
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
|Institutions||Oklahoma State University, Yale University, Tufts University|
|Alma mater||Yale University, Stanford University|
|Doctoral advisor||Gordon Bower|
|Known for||Triarchic theory of intelligence, Triangular theory of love|
Robert Sternberg (born December 8, 1949) is an American psychologist, and psychometrician, Professor of Psychology and Provost at Oklahoma State University. He was formerly the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education at Yale University, and the President of the American Psychological Association. He is a member of the editorial boards of numerous journals, including American Psychologist. Sternberg has a BA from Yale University and a PhD from Stanford University. Gordon Bower was his PhD advisor. He holds ten honorary doctorates from one North American, one South American, and eight European universities, and additionally holds an honorary professorship at the University of Heidelberg, in Germany. He is currently also a Distinguished Associate of The Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge. Among his major contributions to psychology are the Triarchic theory of intelligence, several influential theories related to creativity, wisdom, thinking styles, love and hate, and is the author of over 1000 articles, book chapters, and books. He was recently named the 24th President of The University of Wyoming, a post he will take up July 1, 2013.
Early life 
Robert Jeffrey Sternberg was born on December 9, 1949, to a Jewish family, in New Jersey. Sternberg suffered from test anxiety since childhood. As a result, he became an inadequate test taker. This upset him and he reasoned that a test was not an adequate measurement of his true knowledge and academic abilities. When he later retook a test in a room that consisted of younger students, he felt more comfortable and his scores were increased dramatically. The following year, he created the Sternberg Test of Mental Agility (STOMA), his first intelligence test. This problem of test taking is what sparked Sternberg’s interest in Psychology.
Academic career 
Sternberg’s standard, test-taking abilities continued into his college career. He did so poorly on his Introductory Psychology class, at Yale University, that his professor insisted that he pursue another major. Determined to succeed, Sternberg earned a B.A. summa cum laude, and was Phi Beta Kappa, with honors and exceptional distinction in psychology. Sternberg continued his academic career at Stanford University, where he earned his Ph.D., in 1975.
Honorary Degrees 
He also holds honorary doctorates from numerous universities outside the United States. The list of universities includes University of Heidelberg (Germany), Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), University of Huelva (Spain), University of Leuven (Belgium), University of Cyprus, University of Paris V (France), and St. Petersburg State University (Russia).
Publications and Research 
Sternberg has acquired over $20 million in grants and contracts for his research and has conducted research on 5 different continents. The central focus of his research is on intelligence, creativity, and wisdom. He has also studied close relationships, love, and hatred.
Awards and Recognitions 
Robert Sternberg’s awards include the Sir Francis Galton Award from the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics, the Arthur W. Staats Award from the American Psychological Foundation and the Society for General Psychology and the E. L. Thorndike Award for Career Achievement in Educational Psychology Award from the Society for Educational Psychology of the American Psychological Association (APA). In the APA Monitor on Psychology, Sternberg has been rated as one of the top 100 psychologists of the twentieth century. The ISI has rated Sternberg as one of the most highly cited authors in psychology and psychiatry (top .05 percent).
Research interests 
Sternberg's main research include the following interests:
- Higher mental functions, including intelligence and creativity
- Styles of thinking
- Cognitive modifiability
- Love and hate
- Love and war
Sternberg has proposed a triarchic theory of intelligence and a triangular theory of love. He is the creator (with Todd Lubart) of the investment theory of creativity, which states that creative people buy low and sell high in the world of ideas, and a propulsion theory of creative contributions, which states that creativity is a form of leadership.
Sternberg has criticized IQ tests, saying they are "convenient partial operationalizations of the construct of intelligence, and nothing more. They do not provide the kind of measurement of intelligence that tape measures provide of height."
In 1995, he was on an American Psychological Association task force writing a consensus statement on the state of intelligence research in response to the claims being advanced amid the Bell Curve controversy, titled "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns."
Triarchic Theory of Intelligence 
Many descriptions of intelligence focus on mental abilities such as vocabulary, comprehension, memory and problem-solving that can be measured through intelligence tests. This reflects the tendency of psychologists to develop their understanding of intelligence by observing behaviour believed to be associated with intelligence.
Sternberg believes that this focus on specific types of measurable mental abilities is too narrow. He believes that studying intelligence in this way leads to an understanding of only one part of intelligence and that this part is only seen in people who are "school smart" or "book smart".
There are, for example, many individuals who score poorly on intelligence tests, but are creative or are "street smart" and therefore have a very good ability to adapt and shape their environment. According to Sternberg (2003), giftedness should be examined in a broader way incorporating other parts of intelligence.
The Triarchic Model 
Sternberg (2003) categorizes intelligence into three parts, which are central in his theory, the triarchic theory of intelligence:
- Analytical intelligence, the ability to complete academic, problem-solving tasks, such as those used in traditional intelligence tests. These types of tasks usually present well-defined problems that have only a single correct answer.
- Creative or synthetic intelligence, the ability to successfully deal with new and unusual situations by drawing on existing knowledge and skills. Individuals high in creative intelligence may give 'wrong' answers because they see things from a different perspective.
- Practical intelligence, the ability to adapt to everyday life by drawing on existing knowledge and skills. Practical intelligence enables an individual to understand what needs to be done in a specific setting and then do it.
Sternberg (2003) discusses experience and its role in intelligence. Creative or synthetic intelligence helps individuals to transfer information from one problem to another. Sternberg calls the application of ideas from one problem to a new type of problem relative novelty. In contrast to the skills of relative novelty there is relative familiarity which enables an individual to become so familiar with a process that it becomes automatized. This can free up brain resources for coping with new ideas.
Context, or how one adapts, selects and shapes their environment is another area that is not represented by traditional measures of giftedness. Practically intelligent people are good at picking up tacit information and utilizing that information. They tend to shape their environment around them. (Sternberg, 2003)
Sternberg (2003) developed a testing instrument to identify people who are gifted in ways that other tests don't identify. The Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test measures not only traditional intelligence abilities but analytic, synthetic, automatization and practical abilities as well. There are four ways in which this test is different from conventional intelligence tests.
- This test is broader, measuring synthetic and practical skills in addition to analytic skills. The test provides scores on analytic, synthetic, automatization, and practical abilities, as well as verbal, quantitative, and figural processing abilities.
- The test measures the ability to understand unknown words in context rather than vocabulary skills which are dependent on an individual's background.
- The automatization subtest is the only part of the test that measures mental speed.
- The test is based on a theory of intelligence.
Practical application 
Sternberg added experimental criteria to the application process for undergraduates to Tufts University, where he was Dean of Arts and Sciences, to test "creativity and other non-academic factors." Calling it the "first major university to try such a departure from the norm," Inside Higher Ed noted that Tufts continues to consider the SAT and other traditional criteria.
Theory in cognitive styles 
Sternberg proposed a theory of cognitive styles in 1997.
Sternberg's basic idea is that the forms of government we have in the world are external reflections of the way different people view and act in the world, that is, different ways of organizing and thinking. Cognitive styles should not be confused with abilities, they are the way we prefer to use these abilities. Indeed a good fit between a person's preferred cognitive profile and his abilities can create a powerful synergy that outweighs the sum of its parts.
The main three branches of government are the executive branch, legislative branch and judicial branch. People also need to perform these functions in their own thinking and working. Legislative people like to build new structures, creating their own rules along the way. Executive people are rule followers, they like to be given a predetermined structure in which to work in. Judicial people like to evaluate rules and procedures, to analyze a given structure.
The four forms of mental self-government are hierarchical, monarchic, oligarchic, and anarchic. The hierarchic style holds multiple goals simultaneously and prioritizes them. The oligarchic style is similar but differs in involving difficulty prioritizing. The monarchic style, in comparison, focuses on a single activity until completion. The anarchic style resists conformity to "systems, rules, or particular approaches to problems."
The two levels of mental self-government are local and global. The local style focuses on more specific and concrete problems, in extreme case they "can't see the forest for the trees". The global style, in comparison, focuses on more abstract and global problems, in extreme cases they "can't see the trees for the forest".
The two scopes of mental self-government are internal and external. The internal style focuses inwards and prefers to work independently. The external style focuses outwards and prefers to work in collaboration.
The two leanings of mental self-government are the liberal and conservative. These styles have nothing to do with politics. The liberal individual likes change, to go beyond exciting rules and procedures. The conservative individual dislikes change and ambiguity, he will be happiest in a familiar and predictable environment.
We all have different profiles of thinking styles which can change over situations and time of life. Moreover a person can, and often does, have a secondary preferred thinking style.
- Key References
- On "Higher Mental Functions":
- Sternberg, R. J. (1977): Intelligence, information processing,and analogical reasoning: The componential analysis of human abilities.Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Sternberg, R. J. (1985): Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Sternberg, R. J. (1990): Metaphors of mind: Conceptions of the nature of intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Sternberg, R. J. (1997): Successful intelligence. New York: Plume.
- Sternberg, R. J. (1999): "The theory of successful intelligence." Review of General Psychology, 3, 292-316.
- Sternberg, R. J., Forsythe, G. B., Hedlund, J., Horvath, J., Snook, S., Williams, W. M., Wagner, R. K., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2000): Practical intelligence in everyday life. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2000): Teaching for successful intelligence. Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight.
- (2007) Sternberg, R.J.: Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized. New York: Cambridge University Press
- (2011) Sternberg, R.J., & Scott Barry Kaufman (Eds.) (2011): The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
- Key References
- On "Creativity":
- Sternberg, R. J., James C Kaufman, & Pretz, J. E. (2002): The creativity conundrum: A propulsion model of creative contributions. Philadelphia, PA.
- Sternberg, R. J., & Lubart, T. I. (1995): Defying the crowd: Cultivating creativity in a culture of conformity. New York: Free Press.
- Sternberg, R. J., & Williams, W. M. (1996): How to develop student creativity. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
- Key Reference
- On "Leadership":
Sternberg, R. J., & Vroom, V. H. (2002): "The person versus the situation in leadership." Leadership Quarterly, 13, 301-323
- Key Reference
- On "Cognitive Styles":
Sternberg, R. & Grigorenko, E. (1997). Are cognitive styles still in style? American Psychologist, 52, 700-712.
See also 
- Sternberg, R. J., & Lubart, T. I. (1995). Defying the crowd: Cultivating creativity in a culture of conformity. New York: Free Press.
- Jaschik, Scott (2006). A "Rainbow" Approach to Admissions. Inside Higher Ed, July 6, 2006.
- The Theory of Successful Intelligence Interamerican Journal of Psychology - 2005, Vol. 39, Num. 2 pp. 189-20
- Sternberg, R. J. (2003). Giftedness According to the Theory of Successful Intelligence. In N. Colangelo & G. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of Gifted Education (88-99). Boston MA: Allyn and Bacon.
- Jaschik, Scott (2006). A "Rainbow" Approach to Admissions. Inside Higher Ed, July 6, 2006.
- McAnerny, Kelly (2005). From Sternberg, a new take on what makes kids Tufts-worthy. Tufts Daily, November 15, 2005.
Further reading 
- Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic, 1983
- Robert J. Sternberg. A page dedicated to his life's work.
- Biographical sketch, The Psychometrics Centre
- , University of Cambridge
- Triarchic Theory of Intelligence - uwsp.edu
- Video (with mp3 available) of discussion about intelligence and creativity with Sternberg on Bloggingheads.tv