Jerome Seymour Bruner

1987 Balzan Prize for Human Psychology

For his research embracing all of the most important problems of human psychology, in each of which he has made substantial and original contributions of theoretical as well as practical value for the development of the psychological faculties of man.

Jerome Bruner’s (1915 – 2016) works have above all been directed towards the study of cognitive processes, and proceeding from these he elaborated original procedures for the development of the psychic faculties. These studies have been universally recognized and have been of great practical value also in the pedagogic domain.

It is characteristic of Bruner’s attitude that he rejects any preconceived method and any one-sided theory proposed as if it were exclusive and able to explain the varieties of human behaviour on the basis of one single principle. This attitude of his does not mean an eclectic approach resulting in heterogeneous doctrines, but an ability to perceive problems from the most varied viewpoints, consolidating them into a coherent and global vision.

Bruner knows, in particular, how to balance the scientific requirements of a field considered as an experimental science and the humanistic importance which the study of human psychology automatically acquires. These circumstances have worked together to take Bruner’s research far beyond the limits of his specialisation, spreading their influence all over related disciplines, from which, at the same time, the research derived furnished new material.

Our understanding on the subject of infancy, of the development of language, of the processes of motivation and comprehension have been enriched by brilliant intuitions which Bruner has always conscientiously verified “in the field”. Though Bruner has worked above all in English-speaking countries and his works have predominantly been stimulated by situations and circumstances in those countries, his influence has spread over all the continents and his research has become an obligatory source of reference recognized by all schools of psychology and pedagogy, even if their specialisations are far removed from his.

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