logical thinking and memory that appeared absent in hypothetical problem solving (Cole et al., 1971; Cole and Scribner, 1977; Dube, 1982; Kagan et al., 1979; Kearins, 1981; Lancy, 1983; Mandler et al., 1980; Neisser, 1982; Price-Williams et al., 1967; Rogoff and Waddell, 1982; Ross and Millsom, 1970; Scribner, 1974, 1975, 1977).
This body of work led many investigators to challenge the assumption that cognitive tasks or batteries developed in a specific cultural setting were context-free measures of cognitive abilities (Cole et al., 1976; Ceci, 1996, Gardner, 1983; Lave, 1988; Nuñes et al., 1993). Research focused on analogues of standardized cognitive tasks that were embedded in people’s everyday lives, such as weaving patterns, the calculating of change in the store, and personal narration (Cole et al., 1976; Greenfield, 1974; Greenfield and Childs, 1977; Lave, 1977; Serpell, 1977). In many of these studies, “native” subjects were shown to perform better than Western subjects when the materials and tasks reflected some correspondence to the more familiar, everyday versions of the tasks. During this same period, increasing attention was directed to the social context surrounding standardized testing situations and the study of testing as a unique context in itself with its own discourse and interactional rules for what constitutes appropriate behavioral expectations (Goodnow, 1976; Miller-Jones, 1989; Rogoff and Mistry, 1985).
In more recent research challenging a universal g factor, Sternberg and Grigorenko (1997b) tested Kenyan children using several different instruments: one measured tacit knowledge of appropriate use of natural herbal medicines, including their source, their use, and dosage. Two other instruments designed to measure reasoning ability (Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices Test) and formal knowledge-based abilities (Mill Hill Vocabulary Scale) were administered as well. The findings showed no correlation between the “practical intelligence” measured by the herbal medicine test and the test scores for reasoning ability, as well as a negative correlation with the formal knowledge-based test. Ethnographic work with the families suggested to the authors that they saw either formal schooling or practical knowledge as relevant to a child’s future and so emphasized only one. The implication drawn by the authors is that variation in performance on intelligence tests may capture what is valued in the home environment rather than what is intrinsic to the child’s intellectual ability (Sternberg, 1999).
International research results have been supported in research done more locally. Housewives in Berkeley, California who successfully did mathematics when comparison shopping were unable to do the same mathematics when placed in a classroom and given isomorphic problems presented abstractly (Lave, 1988; Sternberg, 1999). A similar result was found with weight watchers’ strategies for solving mathematical measurement prob-