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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
October 2023
Print publication year:
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Book description

Tania Zittoun demonstrates that there is pleasure in thinking, and that the pleasure of thinking plays a key role in our lives – in the development of children, in learning, in adult life, and in ageing. Drawing on arts and philosophy, exploring research in developmental psychology, cultural psychology, and psychoanalysis, it highlights five modalities of thinking: curiosity, the functional pleasure of pursuing a task, the pleasure of discovery, the dialogical pleasure of thinking with others, and a meta-pleasure. This book proposes a unique integrative model of thinking, conceived as a situated activity, following trajectories that combine modalities of pleasure. Evolving with time, the pleasure of thinking can take place as we reason, make sense, or daydream, at school, at work, when we garden, or do science. Academics and graduate students in sociocultural, critical, developmental, and cognitive psychology will benefit from The Pleasure of Thinking.


‘The Pleasure of Thinking by Tania Zittoun is a wonderfully evocative book that performs its own message. It gave me great pleasure as a reader and provided much to think about, ranging from psychoanalysis to cultural psychology, from case studies to theoretical reflections on the nature of thinking. Highly recommend!'

Svend Brinkmann - University of Aalborg, Denmark

‘This wonderful volume embodies the principle it so clearly elucidates. It is a great pleasure to read a persuasive argument for the central role of emotions in human cognitive processes. Combining lucid descriptions of key theoretical ideas with compelling examples of the centrality of pleasure in human activities ranging from gardening to psychotherapy and cognitive science, Tania Zittoun has brought to life a powerful vision of a semiotic cultural psychology adequate to the understanding and conduct of everyday lives.'

Mike Cole - University of California San Diego, USA

‘Tania Zittoun presents a captivating and grossly understudied phenomenon – the pleasure of thinking. Steering the reader through trajectories of thinking engagements in developmental and sociocultural psychology, Zittoun portrays in a novel and stimulating way, different modalities of pleasurable thinking such as curiosity, functional activity, discovery, dialogical and reflective thinking.'

Ivana Markova - University of Stirling, UK

‘This is the best book in a long time to take seriously what it means and why it matters to think. Zittoun lucidly synthesises the insights from the classical research of figures like Piaget, Freud and Vygotsky, and she integrates these conclusions with the findings of more recent developmental research. The roots of the pleasure of adult thinking are thus traced to the infant's early enjoyment of the pleasure of emotional attunement and the excitement of surprises, which crystalizes with development first into curiosities, then into sustained interests, with a little help from a growing capacity for humour. This book will inspire those who read it to think more, and to think about how they can help others to think. It is a gift from psychology to a world devoured by the thought that it has no time to think.'

Paul Stenner - Open University, UK

‘Tania Zittoun is the most creative thinker in the field of cultural psychology of the past two decades. She systematically explores the real depths of the human psyche in ways that pay respect to its intricate affective texture. A real pleasure to read.'

Jaan Valsiner - Editor, Culture & Psychology

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