Princeton University Library Catalog

Implicit Theories of Intelligence: A Temporal Trend Toward Polarization

Riposta, Joseph [Browse]
Senior thesis
Conway, Andrew [Browse]
Allen, Lesley [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year:
64 pages
Summary note:
The current study replicates a 1981 experiment by Robert J. Sternberg and colleagues investigating people’s conceptions of intelligence. Princeton students studying in a library and people waiting for a train at a railroad station were asked to list behaviors characteristic of either “intelligence,” “academic intelligence,” “everyday intelligence,” or “unintelligence”. The purpose of these “surveys” was to assemble a master list of intelligent and unintelligent behaviors and to examine correlations between frequencies of responses for each type of intelligence. The results corroborated Sternberg et al.’s findings that people have well-defined prototypes corresponding to the various types of intelligence. Additionally, a general trend of polarization between academic and nonacademic respondents was also observed since Sternberg et al.’s study. Specifically, college students associated intelligence more strongly with academic intelligence as compared to the 1981 student group. Conversely, the non-academic respondents in the current study associated intelligence more strongly with everyday intelligence than the 1981 non-academic respondents. Together, these results indicate that people’s conceptions of intelligence have polarized since 1981.