Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid - Sternberg, Robert J. - Yale University Press

Social Science
Political Science

Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid

  • Edited by Robert Sternberg
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Chosen by the as one of "The Best of the Best from the University Presses: Books You Should Know About" for 2003 by the American Library Association

Chosen as an "Outstanding" title in the 2002 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

One need not look far to find breathtaking acts of stupidity committed by people who are smart, or even brilliant. The behavior of smart individuals—from presidents to prosecutors to professors—is at times so amazingly stupid as to seem inexplicable. Why do otherwise intelligent people think and behave in ways so stupid that they sometimes destroy their livelihoods or even their lives?

This book is the first devoted to investigating what the most current psychological research can tell us about stupidity in everyday life. The contributors to the volume, renowned scholars in various areas of human intelligence, present fascinating examples of people messing up their lives, and they offer insights into the reasons for such behavior. From a variety of perspectives, the contributors discuss:

• The nature and theory of stupidity

• How stupidity contributes to stupid behavior

• Whether stupidity is measurable

While many millions of dollars are spent each year on intelligence research and testing to determine who has the ability to succeed, next to nothing is spent to determine who will make use of their intelligence and not squander it by behaving stupidly. Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid focuses on the neglected side of this discussion, reviewing the full range of theory and research on stupid behavior and analyzing what it tells us about how people can avoid stupidity and its devastating consequences.

Robert J. Sternberg is IBM Professor of Psychology and Education and director of PACE, the Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise, at Yale University. He is a widely known expert on intelligence testing and the author or editor of some sixty books, including The Psychology of Love and Competence Considered, both published by Yale University Press.