Jerome Bruner(1915 - )
Notedfor: the “Cognitive Revolution,” the “new look” inperception; “A Study of Thinking”; research on children’s cognitivedevelopment and its application to education; the role of narrativein psychology and law.
“Any subject canbe taught in effectively in some intellectually honest form to anychild at any stage of development.” – from The Process ofEducation
JeromeBruner was a leader of theCognitive Revolution (pdf)that ended the reign of behaviorismin American psychological research and put cognition at the centerof the field. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1941, andreturned to lecture at Harvard in 1945, after serving in the U.S.Army’s Intelligence Corps. By 1952 Bruner was a fullProfessor the Department of Social Relations. In 1960 heco-founded the interdisciplinary, iconoclastic Center for CognitiveStudies at Harvard, serving with George Miller as co-director,until he departed the university in 1972 to take a position atOxford University.
In thecourse of his three decades at Harvard, Bruner published works onperceptual organization, cognition, and learning theory, all ofwhich departed dramatically from the deliberate mind-blindness ofbehaviorism, by emphasizing the importance of strategies and mentalrepresentations in the processing of real-worldphenomena. His seminal 1956 book, A Study of Thinking(co-written with Jacqueline Goodnow and George Austin), reportedresults from a series of studies investigating concept formation.Bruner et al.’s concept formation tasks have been used in countlessstudies by subsequent researchers.
Equallyinfluential were Bruner’s investigations of children’s cognitivedevelopment. He proposed a 3-tiered system of internalrepresentations: enactive (action-based), iconic (image-based), andsymbolic (language-based).
Bruneralso postulated that internal representations could be combined toproduce different types of thought. His theory differentiatedbetween “narrative thought” (temporally/causally sequential,focused on details and action) and “paradigmatic thought”(mentalcategorization by recognizing abstract, systematic similarities ofunrelated phenomena). Bruner’s theory of cognitive development wasdistinct from other stage-based theories of cognition, as it heldthat even young children can learn difficult concepts withappropriate instructional support, and it readily lent itself topractical educational applications, which Bruner himself helped todesign and implement.
Bruner’sexplorations of learning and cognitive development have changed thefield, and his enthusiastic support of cross-disciplinary researchfostered the work of many colleagues and students. Accordingto his colleague Roger Brown, “Bruner had the gift of providingrare intellectual stimulus, but also the rarer gift of givingcolleagues the sense that problems of great antiquity were on theverge of solution by the group there assembled that veryafternoon.”
JeromeBruner is listed at number 28 on the American PsychologicalAssociation’s list of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the20th century.
Bruner,J.S. & Goodman, C.C. (1947). Value and need as organizingfactors in perception. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology,42, 33-44
Cohen-Cole, J.(2007). Instituting the science of mind: intellectual economies anddisciplinary exchange at Harvard’s Center for CognitiveStudies. British Journal of the History of Science 40(4), pp.567-597.
Eminentpsychologists of the 20th century. (July/August, 2002).Monitor on Psychology, 33(7), p.29.www.psychspace.com心理学空间网