Many ideas about competency date back to the early twentieth century when the technologies of ability and achievement testing were first developed. But are the skills measured by these tests adequate in and relevant to today's world? What does it mean for a worker, a student, or a parent to be competent in cultures around the world?

In Culture and Competence: Contexts of Life Success, Robert J. Sternberg and Elena L. Grigorenko bring together a group of leading scholars to discuss how competency is defined in cultures around the world. Moving beyond traditional blanket expectations of Western culture, the authors explore the existence and various forms of "core competencies," discuss how competencies can be identified and studied across cultures, and explain how integral it will be to understand varying definitions of competence as globalization increases and societies become more complex.

This volume will be an invaluable resource for graduate students new to the fields of intelligence and of cultural psychology while also appealing to cognitive, developmental, cultural, and educational psychologists as well as anthropologists and educators at all levels.

Table of Contents



  1. An Ecocultural Perspective on the Development of Competence
    —John W. Berry
  2. What Do Children Do When They Cannot Go to School?
    —Elena L. Grigorenko and Paul A. O'Keefe
  3. Cultural Competence—Tacit, Yet Fundamental: Self, Social Relations, and Cognition in the United States and Japan
    —Shinobu Kitayama and Sean Duffy
  4. Understanding the Cognitive and Social Aspects of Intercultural Competence
    —Walter J. Lonner and Susanna A. Hayes
  5. The Cultural Deep Structure of Psychological Theories of Social Development
    —Joan G. Miller
  6. Cultures and Cognition: Performance Differences and Invariant Structures
    —Ype H. Poortinga and Fons J. R. Van de Vijver
  7. The Cultural Practice of Intelligence Testing: Problems of International Export
    —Robert Serpell and Brenda Pitts Haynes
  8. Intellectual, Attitudinal and Interpersonal Aspects of Competence in the United States and Japan
    —Lauren J. Shapiro and Hiroshi Azuma
  9. Why Cultural Psychology Is Necessary and Not Just Nice: The Example of the Study of Intelligence
    —Robert J. Sternberg and Elena L. Grigorenko
  10. Culturally Situated Cognitive Competence: A Functional Framework
    —Qi Wang, Stephen J. Ceci, Wendy M. Williams, and Kimberly A. Kopko
  11. Ethnoepistemologies at Home and at School
    —Isabel Zambrano and Patricia Greenfield
  12. Reflections on Culture and Competence
    —David Matsumoto


About the Editors

Editor Bios

Robert J. Sternberg is best known for his theory of successful intelligence, investment theory of creativity (developed with Todd Lubart), theory of mental self-government, and balance theory of wisdom as well as for his triangular theory of love and theory of love as a story. The focus of his research is intelligence and cognitive development. Dr. Sternberg is the author of more than 800 journal articles, book chapters, and books and has received about $15 million in government grants and contracts for his research. He is currently president of the American Psychological Association (APA) and editor of Contemporary Psychology. He received his PhD from Stanford University in 1975 and his BA summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Yale University in 1972.

He has won many awards including the Early Career Award from APA, Outstanding Book Awards from the American Educational Research Association, the Distinguished Lifetime Contribution to Psychology Award from the Connecticut Psychological Association, the Cattell Award of the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology, and the Award for Excellence of the Mensa Education and Research Foundation. He has held a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as Yale University Senior and Junior Faculty Fellowships. He has been president of several APA divisions including the Society for General Psychology; the Division of Educational Psychology; the Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts; and the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He has also served as editor of Psychological Bulletin.

Elena L. Grigorenko holds a PhD in general psychology from Moscow State University (1990) and a PhD in developmental psychology and genetics from Yale University (1996). Her professional experiences include conducting research, teaching psychology, and designing educational curricula. Dr. Grigorenko has published more than 100 books and articles, and she is currently associate editor of Contemporary Psychology. She has worked with American, Russian, Indian, and African children, and her main interests are individual differences, child development, and exceptional children. Currently, she is associate professor at Yale and Moscow State University.

Reviews & Awards

Highly recommended.
—CHOICE Magazine