Toward the Anthropological Study of Cognitive Performance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper examines the logical and empirical basis for cognitive analysis in anthropology. A review of the assumptions that cognitive anthropology makes about the nature of human cognition and behavior is followed by a critical discussion focusing on four problems: (1) the psychological reality of analyses, (2) the competence versus performance dichotomy, (3) the sharedness of cognitive systems, and (4) explanatory perspective in cognitive anthropology. This discussion concludes that as presently constituted, cognitive anthropology does not take us toward the goal of producing an adequate account of cognitive performance. Evolutionary structuralism, which appears to be a viable approach toward this goal is outlined, its major points are discussed, and its implications for continued research are elaborated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-703
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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