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  • Today, Keith E. Stanovich, Richard F. West, and Maggie E. Toplak are featured on our Five Minutes with the Authors talking about their book The Rationality Quotient. The books explores how to assess critical aspects of cognitive functioning that are not measured by IQ tests. 

    Why is rationality commonly seen as a part of intelligence, yet excluded from tests that measure it—IQ tests being the primary example?

    The idea that IQ tests do not measure all of the important human faculties is not new. This point deserves elaboration, because a common misinterpretation of our work is that we are trying to improve intelligence tests. Not only is this not our goal, but it is a serious misunderstanding of what we are trying to achieve.

    Unlike some writers, we do not see the usefulness of labeling every human cognitive skill as intelligence—particularly when there are readily existing concepts (both scientific concepts and folk concepts) for some of those things (rationality, creativity, wisdom, critical thinking, open-minded thinking, reflectivity, sensitivity to evidence).  For example, theorists such as Howard Gardner and Robert Sternberg define entities such as practical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, emotional intelligence, etc…

    Posted at 09:00 am on Mon, 31 Oct 2016 in cognitive science, psychology
  • Politicians routinely amplify and misdirect voters’ anger and resentment to win their support. Why do these tactics work? First published in 1996 (as The Politics of Denial), Raised to Rage offers a compelling and novel explanation for political anger and the roots of authoritarian political attitudes. This timely book was recently reprinted with a new introduction that updates the empirical evidence and connects it to the current presidential campaign. In this post, authors Michael Milburn and Sheree Conrad discuss the relationship between childhood punishment and support for authoritarianism and what it means for this political moment.

    Based on your research, what have you found to be the relationship between childhood punishment and support for punitive political initiatives and authoritarianism?

    In our research, we have found that individuals who report having been physically punished frequently in childhood are significantly higher in authoritarianism and in support for punitive public policies like the death penalty and the use of military force. Our model is “affect displacement,” that emotion from one source, in this case, childhood, can be carried into adulthood and displaced onto adult political attitudes. Political attitudes are complex and have many different influences, including education, income, and the attitudes of one’s parents. In our study published in 2014 in the journal Political Psychology, we controlled for background demographic variables that have been found to influence authoritarianism, and we examined the relationship of childhood experience to authoritarianism, controlling for the political ideology of their parents. The significant impact of childhood punishment remained significant, such that individuals whose parents were liberal, but who also used physical punishment, were significantly higher in authoritarianism than those individuals whose parents were liberal and did not use physical punishment. 

    Posted at 09:00 am on Fri, 30 Sep 2016 in current affairs, psychology


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The MIT PressLog is the official blog of MIT Press. Founded in 2005, the Log chronicles news about MIT Press authors and books. The MIT PressLog also serves as forum for our authors to discuss issues related to their books and scholarship. Views expressed by guest contributors to the blog do not necessarily represent those of MIT Press.