Abstraction is one facet of intellectual functioning. The study of abstraction allows extremely valuable insights into human intelligence. While this monograph indicates that the ability to think abstractly declines slightly with age, there are a number of variables determining abstract thinking and its relation to intelligence over the life-span. This monograph defines abstraction from all angles of thought, contrasting it with high-order thinking and stereotyped thinking; it discusses and evaluates tests of abstract thinking; and it presents new findings in sociological and psychological research on abstraction.
Table of Contents1 What is Abstraction? How is it Used? Why is it Important?.- 1.1 Introduction.- 1.2 Definitions, Distinctions, and Contrasts.- 1.3 Psychological Perspectives on Abstraction.- 1.4 Some Concrete Abstractions.- 1.5 Abstraction in Education.- 1.6 Refining the Definition of Abstraction.- 1.7 Chapter Summary.- 2 Abstraction Over the Life Course: Developmental and Methodological Concerns.- 2.1 Introduction.- 2.2 Abstraction and Cognitive Growth in Childhood.- 2.3 Intellectual Decline in Adulthood?.- 2.4 Mistaking Cohort Differences for Age Effects in Cross-Sectional Data.- 2.5 The Longitudinal Study of Adult Intellectual Development.- 2.6 Shortcomings of Longitudinal Designs and Studies.- 2.7 Differential Patterns of Development.- 2.8 Chapter Summary and Directions for Empirical Research.- 3 The Social Bases of Intellectual Functioning.- 3.1 Introduction.- 3.2 Ethnocentrism, Prejudice, and Abstraction.- 3.3 Constrained Belief Systems, Abstract Communication Styles, and Elaborated Speech Codes.- 3.4 Work and Personality.- 3.5 The Theory of Psychological Effects of Complex Environments.- 3.6 Societal Development and Individual Modernity.- 3.7 The Sociology of Knowledge.- 3.8 The Structural Overlap Hypothesis.- 3.9 A Note on the Link Between Complex Environments and Intellectual Functioning.- 3.10 Chapter Summary.- 4 Empirical Findings.- 4.1 Introduction.- 4.2 Measuring Abstraction.- 4.3 Coding Similarities Items.- 4.4 The Sample.- 4.5 Environmental Complexity from Status-Related Sources.- 4.6 Environmental Complexity of Elders: Retirement and Social Isolation.- 4.7 Environmental Complexity from Structural Overlap.- 4.8 Chapter Summary.- 5 The Study of the Social Bases of Intellectual Functioning Across the Life Course: Issues, Findings, Directions for Further Research on Abstraction.- 5.1 Introduction.- 5.2 The Three Challenges.- 5.3 Conclusions From the Social Psychological Study of Abstraction and Age.- 5.4 Abstraction, Human Development, and the Concept of Differentiation: New Directions in Theory.- Author Index.