chapter  4
14 Pages

The Theory of Mental Self-Government Grows Up: Where Has It Led the Field after 21 Years?


Much knowledge about thinking styles as defi ned in Sternberg’s theory of mental self-government (1988, 1997) has been accumulated over the past decade. Furthermore, Sternberg’s theory as well as the work based on it has been a major force in advancing the fi eld of intellectual styles. Yet, there is not a single piece of work that documents such knowledge and advancement. This chapter is intended to be a comprehensive review of the work derived from Sternberg’s theory of mental self-government. It is divided into fi ve sections. First, the theory and the research tools used to operationalize the theory are introduced. Second, major research fi ndings, especially those that speak to the three controversial issues over the nature of styles (i.e., styles as traits versus states, styles as value-laden versus value-free, and styles as different constructs versus similar constructs with different labels), are presented. The third section presents one particularly unique product of the theory of mental self-government-the threefold model of intellectual styles (an encompassing term for such constructs as cognitive styles, learning styles, and thinking styles). The fourth section elaborates the threefold model’s contributions to the fi eld and its practical signifi cance for education and beyond. Finally, some conclusions are drawn.