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Who Is Rational?: Studies of individual Differences in Reasoning Paperback – April 12, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0805824735 ISBN-10: 0805824731 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Psychology Press (March 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805824731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805824735
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,181,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Stanovich and his colleagues have done an absolutely remarkable job in exploring individual differences. I think this will be the definitive work on this topic for decades. The book...is necessary reading for anyone who plans to work on this topic, whether as a philosopher or a psychological researcher.
Contemporary Psychology

This is an important book.
Informal Logic

This is an ambitious book. Any book that sets out with the goal of addressing fundamental issues of human rationality has its work cut out for it. What is impressive about this book is the extent to which it succeeds: Stanovich poses an interesting question and examines the issue from a novel prespective. The scholarship of the book is impressive, and his command of the literature and analysis of the issues produce a thoughtful and thoroughly articulated viewpoint. His arguments are carefully reasoned, and are supported by meticulous and rigorous experimental evidence.
...it is an excellent summary of the important issues and current perspectives in the rationality debate, readers interested in knowing more about the broader issues are also likely to find this book to be a useful source.

Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

The results of this project contribute to resolving the on-going debate over whether humans are fundamentally rational or irrational creatures. No one with a strong interest in judgment, decision-making, reasoning, rationality, or thinking styles should overlook this interesting, readable, and well-organized book....This book says something new and important about human rationality and is a great contribution to the field.
Cognitive Science Society Newsletter

The book is clearly structured and easy and interesting to read. All major arguments, positions and empirical studies relevant to the topic are discussed...
Theory & Psychology

This book gives the definitive account of the relation between reasoning ability and intelligence.
Philip Johnson-Laird
Princeton University

This book describes an important project which shows consistent individual differences across a variety of reasoning problems. The consistencies involve a much wider range of tasks than those that have been studied before in this way. The tasks include many of those used to study fallacies and biases in judgments, decisions, and reasoning. The findings constrain what can be said about the relevance of normative models to prescriptive and descriptive models of judgment and reasoning. For example, they raise a problem for the view that prescriptive models designed to improve reasoning (according to the usual normative standards) are self-defeating. This book will be of interest to scholars at all levels with interests in reasoning, judgment, decision making, and individual differences in mental abilities, as well as to those in social and developmental psychology who have explored related issues.
Jonathan Baron
University of Pennsylvania

This remarkable book has emerged from an exciting research programme which provides some of the clearest evidence to date that the study of individual differences in task performance can lead to theoretical advances in our understanding of mental processes. Professor Stanovich provides a discussion of rationality and thought processes which is equally impressive for its breadth of scholarship as for its depth of intellectual argument. The issues he discusses are of central importance for cognitive scientists and deserve attention from all serious students of this fascinating topic.
Jonathan Evans
University of Plymouth

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Yeaton Clifton Jr. on April 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book offers valuable insights into human nature. Rationality is not a simple question. Economists consider every one rational in the sense that they choose from options and come to conclusions. Further, they solve problems in terms of the best possible out come and use it as a predictor of human actions. An example is the case of the prisoners who no way of knowing whether the other prisoner confessed. Presumably they would both be better off if neither of them confessed (the states evidence would be week). Both of them would be in very bad shape if they both confess (neither gets to play a star witness in the other's trial and the state would have plenty of evidence). A case where one confesses and the other does not would be the worst case for the person who does not confess and the best for the one who does. The prediction is that what ever the other prisoner does you will make yourself better off by confessing implying that they both confess.

This sort of game would very likely predict the outcome of the interrogations if both people understand the game. You could say that a person who does not understand the game is acting rationally on bad information, but this would leave us with no-useful definition of the difference between rational and irrational behavior. The author makes a study of who can understand problems like these and who cannot. He found that one of the strongest predictors of understanding problems is broad liberal arts education. This implies that reasoning ability develops with mental growth. The book is interesting, well documented, and well presented.
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More About the Author

Keith E. Stanovich is currently Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto. His book, What Intelligence Tests Miss, won the 2010 Grawemeyer Award in Education.

Stanovich is the author of over 200 scientific articles. In a three-year survey of citation rates during the mid-1990s (see Byrnes, J. P. (1997). Explaining citation counts of senior developmental psychologists. Developmental Review, 17, 62-77), Stanovich was listed as one of the 50 most-cited developmental psychologists, and one of the 25 most productive educational psychologists (see Smith, M. C., et al., Productivity of educational psychologists in educational psychology journals, 1997-2001. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 28, 422-430). In a citation survey of the period 1982-1992, he was designated the most cited reading disability researcher in the world (Nicolson, R. I. Developmental dyslexia: Past, present and future. Dyslexia, 1996, 2, 190-207).

Stanovich is the only two-time winner of the Albert J. Harris Award from the International Reading Association for influential articles on reading. In 1995 he was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame as the youngest member of that honorary society. In 1997 he was given the Sylvia Scribner Award from the American Educational Research Association, and in 2000 he received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. Stanovich is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Divisions 3, 7, 8, & 15), the American Psychological Society, the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities, and is a Charter Member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. He was a member of the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children of National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences.

From 1986-2000 Stanovich was the Associate Editor of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, a leading journal of human development. His introductory textbook, How to Think Straight About Psychology, published by Allyn & Bacon, is in its Ninth Edition and has been adopted by over 300 institutions of higher education. He is the author of five other books, including What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought (Yale University Press), The Robot's Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin (University of Chicago Press), Decision Making and Rationality in the Modern World (Oxford University Press), and Progress in Understanding Reading (Guilford Press).

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Who Is Rational?: Studies of individual Differences in Reasoning
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