You can teach your child intelligence

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  • BOOK REVIEWS

    SARAH E. H.&wso\: 711~ Comrrtrction o/ Per.wmrlif~~. Au Ittt,odtrrfior~. Routledge & Kegan Paul. London (1982). fS.Y.5 (paperback).

    As the title suggests, this book is an Introduction to the psychological study of personality. It is organized around three dillerent perspectives: the personality theorists perspective. the lay perspective and the self-perspective. Sarah Hampson argues that each perspective on its own is insufficient and she regards personality as a construction made up of contributions from all three perspectives. She acknowledges that these three perspectives are not the only standpoints from which observations about personality can be made. but considers that they cover the main areas of psychologIcal research into personality. The value of this book is manifold. The book is written in clear and stimulat- ing language. The material presented is well organized and is drawn from a wide range of psychological research. The author begins the book bq distinctly drawing attention to some fundamental issues in the measurement of personality and intelligence. Current personality theories and the issues about different types of consistency of behavlour arc comprehensively dealt with. The author concludes that while the concept of personality needs to be expanded to take serious account of the role of situational variables, it nevertheless remains an important factor in the explanation and prediction of behaviour. Lay theories of personality are considered important because of their influence on interper- sonal behaviour. Similarly, self-perception or the self-perspective can have major effects on behavlour as is so clearly documented in the chapter on the Criminal Personality.

    In my view, this is an excellent introductory book, carefully and skilfully constructed, and should be of value to those seeking to understand some of the broader perspectives in the study of personality.

    GISLI H. GUDJOYSWN

    DAL II) Ltw~s: You Ctrn Tctrch )~OIW Chilti It~telli~qrrw. Souvenir Press, London (1981). 271 pp. f6.95

    This IS one of the very popular series of how to books which crowd the shelves of American drug stores. They all raise false hopes. and they all fall down on the essential point- -they fail to find any proof that what thev say is true. Often the advice given is quite reasonable. and I am sure that many children would benefit from being trained by their parents and teachers along the lines suggested in this book. However, to link improvement in their cognitive behav- iour with the term intelligence is almost certainly wrong; had Lewis claimed in his title that you can teach your child scholastic achievement, he might have been believed. Throughout his books he mixes up stolastic and other types of achievement. on the one hand, and intelligence. on the other. Of course we can teach children certain strategies. and you may even be able to teach them to do better on certain types of IQ test problems than they would have done without your teaching; indeed. test sophistication by itself can raise IQ levels by some ten points or so. But then of course you might also tell the child the correct answers. make him learn them by heart. and then achieve a perfect score and a really wonderful IQ! Unfortunately the hopes raised so confidently by Lewis m parents are almost certain to be disappointed. and in the absence of any clear cut, definitive evidence, based on well controlled trials. to claim that you can teach your child intelligence is irresponsible. This is clearly not a book that pays any attention to scientific research: there is not even an attempt at serious discussion of genetic evidence. for instance. Ir may have some small degree of popular success by capitalizing on the tiorries and anxletles of many parents. but It is entirely parasitic on these worries and anxieties, and certainly makes no contribution to the scientific literature on intelligence.

    H. J. I:VSI u< li

    S. FISHER and R. L. FISHER: Pretend the World is Funny, und Forrwr: A P,s~cho/oqictr/ Anrrlysia of Cowtrditrm. C/~WL~ mtl Actor.\. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, New Jersey (1981). XIV + 252 pp.

    This is a brave and overdue attempt to study a difficult and complex topic-what makes some people want to show OR and make fools of themselves in front of others! Since most of the subjects were professional actors and comedians. the study is mainly concerned with the characteristics of ,\~rc,cr\.\flr/ performers. although some small scale lnvcstigations of amateur (student) humour producers are also included. As the title suggests. the central themes to emerge are that comedians specialize in the denial of threat and actors are concerned with extension of historical time. Each has an influentn~l social role that helps people to cope with catastrophe and the discontinuities resulting from death.

    Although the case material and dlscussion is very Interesting. I felt that there was often an unhappy blend of psychoanalytic theory with empirical data. Specifically. projective techniques such ab the Rorschach are overused and ovcrlntcrprctcd. The finding that judges could discriminate comedians from actors on the basis of Rorschach proto- cols. for example. is trivial since many psychologists would argue that the Rorschach is rjnl), a measure of sense of