Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid

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Robert J. Sternberg
Yale University Press, 2003 - Psychology - 254 pages
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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.
 

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Contents

Why and When Are Smart People Stupid?
1
Beliefs That Make Smart People Dumb
24
Smart People Doing Dumb Things The Case of Managerial Incompetence
42
The Engine of Folly
64
When Smart People Behave Stupidly Reconciling Inconsistencies in SocialEmotional Intelligence
86
Sex Lies and Audiotapes The ClintonLewinsky Scandal
106
Rationality Intelligence and Levels of Analysis in Cognitive Science Is Dysrationalia Possible?
124
Smart Is as Stupid Does Exploring Bases of Erroneous Reasoning of Smart People Regarding Learning and Other Disabilities
159
Personality Dispositions
187
When Stupid Is Smarter Than We Are Mindlessness and the Attribution of Stupidity
212
Smart People Are Not Stupid But They Sure Can Be Foolish The Imbalance Theory of Foolishness
232
List of Contributors
243
Index
245
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About the author (2003)

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.

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