Thinking styles and academic achievement among Filipino students.
ABSTRACT The authors' objective in this study was to determine whether the precepts of R. J. Sternberg's (1988, 1997) theory of mental self-government apply to a non-Western culture. They administered R. J. Sternberg and R. K. Wagner's (1992) Thinking Styles Inventory, which is based on the theory of mental self-government, to 429 Filipino university students. The results of item analysis, scale intercorrelations, and factor analysis were consistent with the general provisions of the theory. Correlational analysis between thinking styles and grade point average showed that thinking styles are related to acade micachievement. The results are explained with respect to the concepts and practices of Philippine culture and schools and discussed in relation to the developmental assumptions of the theory of mental self-government.
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ABSTRACT: Thinking style as a learner variable has been considered as a determinant factor to predict learners' success or failure. The two achievement related needs -need for achievement and need for avoiding failure – are related to students cognitive, affective and social development. The purpose of this study is to find out the extent to which EFL learners thinking style correlate their achievement motivation. The current study was carried out with 172 male and female EFL university students of different age, studying English translation, English literature and TEFL at BA and MA level. The two instruments used were the Thinking Styles Inventory-Revised (TSI-R) and Achievement Motives Scale (AMS) to measure the two variables under the study. The findings revealed that there is a moderate positive correlation between thinking style and achievement motivation in general. Besides, the positive correlation of thinking style types with achievement motivation in general, a moderate correlation between the two subconstructs of achievement motivation withInternational Journal of English and Literature (IJEL). 09/2012; 2(3):89-104.
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ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on discussing critical thinking and creative thinking as the core cognitive competence. It reviews and compares several theories of thinking, highlights the features of critical thinking and creative thinking, and delineates their interrelationships. It discusses cognitive competence as a positive youth development construct by linking its relationships with adolescent development and its contributions to adolescents' learning and wellbeing. Critical thinking and creative thinking are translated into self-regulated cognitive skills for adolescents to master and capitalize on, so as to facilitate knowledge construction, task completion, problem solving, and decision making. Ways of fostering these thinking skills, cognitive competence, and ultimately positive youth development are discussed.The Scientific World Journal 01/2012; 2012:210953. · 1.73 Impact Factor
Thinking styles and academic achievement among
Author(s)Bernardo, AB; Zhang, LF; Callueng, CM
The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 2002, v. 163 n. 2, p.
The Journal of Genetic Psychology. Copyright © Heldref
Thinking Styles and Academic Achievement
Among Filipino Students
ALLAN B. I. BERNARDO
College of Education
De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
Department of Education
The University of Hong Kong
CARMELO M. CALLUENG
College of Liberal Arts
De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
ABSTRACT. The authors’ objective in this study was to determine whether the precepts
of R. J. Sternberg’s (1988, 1997) theory of mental self-government apply to a non-West-
ern culture. They administered R. J. Sternberg and R. K. Wagner’s (1992) Thinking Styles
Inventory, which is based on the theory of mental self-government, to 429 Filipino uni-
versity students. The results of item analysis, scale intercorrelations, and factor analysis
were consistent with the general provisions of the theory. Correlational analysis between
thinking styles and grade point average showed that thinking styles are related to acade-
mic achievement. The results are explained with respect to the concepts and practices of
Philippine culture and schools and discussed in relation to the developmental assumptions
of the theory of mental self-government.
Key words: academic achievement, culture, psychological tests, thinking styles
IN RECENT YEARS, researchers have become more interested in exploring the
effects of noncognitive individual-difference variables on academic achievement.
These variables, which are not ability variables, include academic self-concept
(Helmke & van Aken, 1995; Marsh & Yeung, 1997), self-efficacy (Pajares, 1996;
Schunk, 1991; Zimmerman, 1995), and motivation and approach to learning
(Biggs, 1991; Pintrich & de Groot, 1990). Studies of these nonability variables
have involved Western as well as non-Western, Asian students (Biggs, 1989,
1991; Kwok & Lytton, 1996; Watkins, 1996).
One individual-difference variable, style, has received particular attention.
Styles are not abilities but refer to individuals’ preferred way of applying their
abilities in cognitive tasks. Some reviewers (Grigorenko & Sternberg, 1995; Rid-
The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 2002, 163(2), 149–163
ing & Cheema, 1991) have traced the origin of the construct of style back as far
as 1937 (to the work of Allport, 1937); the concept has evolved over time and has
taken many different forms (Messick, 1994; Rayner & Riding, 1997; Riding,
1997; Sternberg & Grigorenko, 1997). A number of researchers, including those
in non-Western countries (Albaili, 1997; Kim & Michael, 1995), have also inves-
tigated the relationship between students’styles and academic achievement; how-
ever, their findings have been inconsistent (Dunn, Beaudry, & Klavas, 1989).
In this article, we report the results of a study relating styles and academic
achievement among college students in the Philippines. We assessed styles using
the Thinking Styles Inventory (TSI; Sternberg & Wagner, 1992), which is based
on Sternberg’s (1988, 1997) theory of mental self-government.
Styles and the Theory of Mental Self-Government
According to Grigorenko and Sternberg (1995; Sternberg & Grigorenko,
1997), three general approaches are used in defining and assessing styles of
thinking and learning. The first approach is cognition centered and deals with
cognitive styles. Witken, Oltman, Rasking, and Karp (1971) have succinctly
defined these cognitive styles as “the characteristic, self-consistent modes of
functioning which individuals show in their perceptual and intellectual abilities”
(p. 3). The second approach to studying styles is personality centered and deals
with personality traits. The third approach is activity centered and is focused on
the notion of “styles as mediators of various forms of activities that may arise
from aspects of cognition and personality” (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 1997, p.
705). Theories pertaining to this third approach tend to focus on styles of teach-
ing and learning.
In his theory of mental self-government, Sternberg (1988, 1997) attempts to
integrate various approaches to styles. The basic assumption of the theory is that
people, like societies, govern themselves and their mental processes and estab-
lish systems and organizations for this governance. In the theory, Sternberg pro-
vides categories and characterizations of how people organize, direct, and man-
age their own thinking activities, and he proposes 13 thinking styles, which fall
under six aspects of mental self-governance. These 13 styles are briefly
The Journal of Genetic Psychology
This research was supported by a grant to Allan B. I. Bernardo from the College of Edu-
cation Research Council, De La Salle University, Manila, and a grant to Li-fang Zhang
from the Wu Jieh-Yee Research Fund, The University of Hong Kong. The authors thank
Elena Reyes, Denise Mitzi Roman, Hazel Marie Joy Ordenes, Maila Q. Castro, Marvin
Reynold Agustin, and Keith Lozada for their assistance in preparing the research materi-
als and in encoding the research data, and the numerous faculty members of De La Salle
University for allowing their students to participate in the study. The authors also thank
the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.
Address correspondence to Allan B. I. Bernardo, College of Education, De La Salle
University, 2401 Taft Avenue, Manila 1004, Philippines; firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
described in the following sections (for a more detailed discussion, see Stern-
berg, 1988, 1997).
Functions. Government systems typically have different branches serving vari-
ous functions; presumably, people also have different styles for focusing on dif-
ferent functions or tasks. There are three functions of people’s mental self-gov-
ernment: legislative, executive, and judicial. People who have a legislative style
prefer tasks that require using creative strategies and generating new approaches
and solutions. People who have an executive style are more concerned with the
proper implementation of tasks within a set of guidelines,and those having a judi-
cial style are concerned with evaluating the work process and products of other
Levels. In most countries, governance operates at different levels: national,
regional, provincial, municipal, and so on. Similarly, in people’s mental self-gov-
ernment, in which individuals may vary in terms of their concern for detail, two
levels of governance are defined: local and global. People with a local style pre-
fer activities that require them to attend to very specific and concrete details,
whereas those with a global style prefer dealing with problems that are general
in nature and that require abstract thinking.
Leanings. In governance, political orientations range from the most conservative
to the most liberal. These two major leanings, conservative and liberal, are also
identified in mental self-government. People with a liberal style prefer tasks that
require them to go beyond existing rules and structures and tasks that are aimed
at effecting substantial change. Those with a conservative style prefer familiar
tasks that require the application of and adherence to existing rules and structures.
Forms. According to Sternberg (1988, 1997), just as there are different forms of
government, there are various ways in which individuals govern themselves:
monarchic, hierarchic, oligarchic, and anarchic. People with a monarchic style
prefer engaging in activities that require them to focus on only one thing at a time.
Those with a hierarchic style prefer distributing their attention and energies over
several tasks that are prioritized. Those with an oligarchic style prefer working
toward several objectives all at the same time without prioritizing the tasks.
Finally, individuals with an anarchic style prefer working on tasks that require
no system at all, and, thus, allow for greater flexibility.
Scope. Governments typically have both domestic and foreign affairs, which are
comparable to the internal and external approaches of mental self-government.
Individuals with an internal style prefer tasks that require working independent-
ly of other people. In contrast, those with an external style prefer activities that
allow for interaction with others.
Bernardo, Zhang, & Callueng 151
According to the theory of mental self-government, people vary in their rel-
ative preferences for these styles and may use more than one style as well as flex-
ibly switch from one to another as they adapt to changing task requirements. The
stylistic preferences are also viewed as being socialized and as functions of one’s
interactions within the sociocultural environment.
Sternberg and Grigorenko (1995; Grigorenko & Sternberg, 1997) conducted
research involving American students that demonstrated the usefulness of the the-
ory for understanding achievement and other aspects of students’ school perfor-
mance. For example, in their 1995 study Sternberg and Grigorenko found that
students benefited if their thinking styles matched those of their teachers. Stu-
dents received more positive evaluations and higher grades from teachers having
Thinking Styles and Achievement Among Asian Students
Researchers have conducted some preliminary work in which they applied
the mental self-government theory in Asian settings. In particular, Zhang and
colleagues (Zhang & Sachs, 1997; Zhang & Sternberg, 1998) studied the think-
ing styles of Chinese college students in Hong Kong. Generally, their findings
mirrored those of American researchers and were consistent with predictions of
the theory. Nevertheless, there were some differences. In using the TSI (Stern-
berg & Wagner, 1992) with Chinese students, for example, Zhang and Sachs
(1997) found only three factors in contrast to the five factors that were found by
Sternberg (1994), whose study involved American students. Although the dif-
ference may have resulted from the rather small sample used in the Hong Kong
study, it warrants further exploration. Moreover, additional studies should be
conducted to determine the applicability of the mental self-government theory
in other Asian settings.
In this study, we explored the utility of the theory of mental self-government
among college students in the Philippines. Although the Philippines is Asian, like
Hong Kong, the authors of previous studies (see Watkins, 1996) of the two cul-
tures found different patterns of correlations among important personality, learn-
ing, and educational achievement variables. For example, most studies with Hong
Kong students showed significant correlations between surface approaches to
learning and internal locus of control, but studies with Filipino students showed
no such correlations. It is reasonable, therefore, to expect differences in terms of
how Filipino and Chinese students apply thinking styles,which appear to be prod-
ucts of one’s interactions with their environment.
Another aspect of the theory of mental self-government that we sought to
explore in this study is whether thinking styles are related to academic achieve-
ment, as was found in the Hong Kong and American studies. Because different
countries value different types of student behavior and achievement,stress diverse
modes of assessment, and encourage different approaches to succeeding in
The Journal of Genetic Psychology
school, we anticipated differences in the degree to which thinking styles relate to
Overview of the Present Study
Our general objective in this study was to explore the applicability and util-
ity of Sternberg’s (1988, 1997) theory of mental self-government in a Filipino
setting. In particular, we sought to determine the structure of the interrelation-
ships among the 13 thinking styles with a sample of Filipino college students and
to verify whether the structure of these interrelationships was consistent with the
assumptions and predictions of Sternberg’s theory. Moreover, we intended to
determine whether thinking styles are predictive of academic success among Fil-
ipino students. In our investigation, we administered the short version of the TSI
(Sternberg & Wagner, 1992) to participants and performed a factor analysis. To
investigate whether thinking styles predict academic success among Filipino stu-
dents, we conducted a correlational analysis using the students’ TSI scores and
grade point average (GPA).
A total of 429 freshman students at De La Salle University, Manila, partici-
pated in the study. The sample included 167 men, 256 women, and 6 other stu-
dents who did not indicate their gender. Their ages ranged from 16 to 21 years
(mean age = 17.18 years; SD= 1.09). The students were enrolled in various under-
graduate programs: 153 were enrolled in science and technology, and 239 were
enrolled in the humanities, education, and social science programs; 37 students
did not indicate their programs of enrollment.
To assess students’ thinking styles, we used the short version of the TSI
(Sternberg & Wagner, 1992). The TSI is a self-report test with 65 items divided
into 13 scales, each containing 5 items that correspond to one of the 13 thinking
styles described in Sternberg’s theory (1988, 1997; see the Appendix for sample
items of the scales). For each item, participants are asked how well the statement
describes them,responding to the question on a 7-point Likert-type scale in which
1 indicates that the statement does not describe them at all, and 7 indicates that
the statement describes them very well.
In addition to the TSI, we asked participants to complete a subject information
sheet concerned with basic demographics, other family information, and educa-
tional experiences. Participants were also required to report their cumulative GPA.
Bernardo, Zhang, & Callueng153
After each participant’s responses were coded, we calculated item–scale cor-
relations to determine the suitability of items for inclusion in the analysis. Then
we estimated the internal consistency of each of the 13 scales using the Cronbach
alpha. We performed a factor analysis to determine whether the patterns of
responding across the scales were consistent with the assumptions of the theory
of mental self-government (Sternberg, 1988, 1997). Finally, the scores from the
13 scales were correlated with the students’ reported GPA.
Our results revealed three items in the inventory with unacceptably low
item–scale correlations; these items were not included in subsequent analysis.
The three omitted items were “I prefer to deal with specific problems, rather than
with general questions” (Item 1, local, r = .24); “When talking or writing about
ideas, I stick to one main idea” (Item 2, monarchic, r = .23); and “I tend to pay
little attention to details” (Item 7, global, r = .18). (These same three items were
also dropped from the validation study of Zhang & Sachs, 1997, who used the
same short form of the TSI with college students in Hong Kong.) The remaining
item–scale correlations ranged from .33 to .82.
Reliability and Scale Intercorrelations
We analyzed the internal consistency of the 13 scales (see Table 1). The alpha
coefficients ranged from .50 to .81, with a median of .71. These results are sim-
ilar to those reported by Sternberg (1994) and by Zhang and Sachs (1997). The
intercorrelations among the 13 scales (summarized in Table 2) yielded correla-
tion coefficients with absolute values ranging from .11 to .66, and all were sta-
tistically significant at p < .05.
The results of the exploratory factor analysis, which was followed by a
varimax rotation, are summarized in Table 3. The factor analysis yielded three
factors with eigenvalues larger than those from the random data. These three
factors were the only factors retained, and they accounted for 64.3% of the
For Factor 1, the highest loadings were from the Legislative, Liberal, Inter-
nal, Anarchic, Global, and Judicial Scales. We labeled this factor Liberal Think-
ing (Malayang Pag-Iisip, in Filipino). We used the term liberal not only in the
The Journal of Genetic Psychology
sense of the liberal style (i.e., a preference for going beyond established rules and
approaches) but also to mean not precise, inexact, loose, and free. Factor 1
describes people who prefer to work alone on unstructured tasks that require
using novel problem-solving strategies and who attend to the various aspects of
such tasks all at once without setting clear priorities.
For Factor 2, the highest loadings were from the Conservative, Executive,
Monarchic, Local, Oligarchic, Judicial, and Hierarchic Scales. This factor was
labeled Structured Thinking (or Maayos Na Pag-Iisip), because it represents a
complex of styles that tend to adhere to structure. In particular, the factor
describes a person who prefers to attend to one prestructured task at a time, focus-
ing on details of the task according to a predefined approach. Unlike the style
described by Liberal Thinking, in this approach a person is mindful of the other
tasks at hand and completes them in order of priority.
Factor 3 received the highest positive loadings from the External and Oli-
garchic Scales and the highest negative loading from the Internal Scale. We
labeled this factor Cooperative Thinking (Kooperatibang Pag-Iisip). It is descrip-
tive of a person who prefers to collaborate with others while working on a vari-
ety of tasks simultaneously. The meaning of cooperative in this context is com-
parable to its economic meaning. Economic cooperatives are set up in
communities to pool resources of small groups of people to more effectively meet
the multiple requirements of economic development initiatives. Thus, the factor
signifies more than the collaborative characteristic of the external style; it repre-
sents a preference for working with others for the purpose of uniting various cog-
nitive resources of many people to address multiple tasks.
Bernardo, Zhang, & Callueng 155
Thinking Styles Inventory Scales: Means, Standard Deviations,
and Alpha Coefficients (N = 429)
5, 10, 14, 32, 49
8, 11, 12, 31, 39
20, 23, 42, 51, 57
18, 38, 48, 61
6, 24, 44, 62
45, 53, 58, 64, 65
13, 22, 26, 28, 36
4, 19, 25, 33, 56
43, 50, 54, 60
27, 29, 30, 52, 59
16, 21, 35, 40, 47
9, 15, 37, 55, 63
3, 17, 34, 41, 46
The Journal of Genetic Psychology
Interscale Correlation Matrix for the 13 Scales of the Thinking Styles Inventory (N = 429)
Correlations With Academic Achievement
To investigate academic achievement in the Philippine context, we correlat-
ed the students’TSI scores with their GPAs. The correlations ranged from .00 to
.17. Six scales were significantly correlated with GPA: Executive (.17, p < .01),
Judicial, Conservative, Hierarchic, Anarchic, and Internal (.12, .10, .11, .12, and
.11, respectively; all ps < .05).1The first four scales loaded on Factor 2, and the
last two and the Judicial Scale loaded on Factor 1.
How do the results of this analysis compare with earlier findings? Grigorenko
and Sternberg (1997) found that the judicial and legislative styles were positive-
ly related to a student’s success in a variety of academic evaluation tasks, but they
found that the executive style was more likely to be negatively correlated with
success in these tasks. The results of the present study also revealed a relation-
ship between the judicial style and general academic achievement, but we found
Bernardo, Zhang, & Callueng 157
Varimax-Rotated Three-Factor Model for the Thinking Styles Inventory
Scale Factor 1Factor 2Factor 3
% of variance
Cumulative % of variance
1The statistically significant correlations were all low, and this low range of correlations
might be related to using the students’reported GPA as the measurement of achievement.
Although it is conceivable that students’ self-reports were unreliable and affected the
robustness of the correlational analysis, this possibility seems unlikely because subsequent
research using similar participants but obtaining the GPA from actual student records
yielded correlations with the TSI scores in the same, and even slightly lower, range. It
seems that for college students in the Philippines, achievement and GPA are not strongly
no relationship between the legislative style and academic achievement. More-
over, in the present study the executive style was positively correlated with GPA.
It should be noted, however, that Grigorenko and Sternberg’s (1997) study
involved gifted American students attending an elite institution of higher educa-
tion. Zhang and Sternberg’s (1998) study involving Hong Kong students of a
wider range of abilities yielded results that were more consistent with those of
the present study. The thinking styles that Zhang and Sternberg found to be pos-
itively associated with academic achievement were “the ones that require con-
formity (e.g., conservative), orientation toward a sense of order (e.g., hierarchic)
and preference for working independently (e.g., internal)” (1998, p. 55). We
found these same thinking styles to be correlated with academic achievement in
a comparable Philippine sample. The significant correlations with the executive
and judicial styles were consistent with the findings of the Hong Kong study,
although the correlation between academic achievement and the anarchic style
seems at odds. (However, one could argue that being able to exercise some degree
of flexibility in prioritizing and executing tasks might help students complete aca-
Our focus in this study was the viability of the TSI in assessing thinking
styles among Filipino college students. We found internal consistencies of the 13
TSI Scales that were similar in magnitude to those found in earlier studies, and
the intercorrelations among the scales were consistent with the predictions of the
theory of mental self-government (Sternberg, 1988, 1997). The results of the fac-
tor analysis also yielded a factor structure that was consistent with the theory.
Finally, the correlational analysis between the thinking styles and GPA revealed
that certain thinking styles were related to academic achievement. Although the
consistency of our results with the theory of mental self-government is important,
the more significant contribution of the study relates to how certain results elab-
orate on specific assumptions of the theory.
In his theory of mental self-government, Sternberg (1997) argued that think-
ing styles are developed and socialized and that culture is one of the foremost fac-
tors that shape thinking styles. Sternberg indicated how different dimensions of
culture may encourage or inhibit the development of specific styles. Thus, indi-
viduals in one culture, compared with those in other cultures, might be expected
to have a higher or lower preference for certain styles.
The results of this study can be discussed within this general framework. In
the introduction, we noted that different factors emerged from similar explorato-
ry factor analyses conducted with American (Sternberg, 1994) and Hong Kong
(Zhang & Sachs, 1997) college students. However, the present study was not
designed to test whether the factors that emerged were consistent with either of
those factor structures (i.e., we did not do confirmatory factor analysis). It would
The Journal of Genetic Psychology
be inappropriate, therefore, to interpret our results as verifying or disconfirming
the other factor structures or as suggestive of a contrast between cultures. Instead,
we should try to understand how the specific results of the study relate to the
assumptions regarding sociocultural development of styles by looking at perti-
nent cultural concepts and practices.
Consider, for example, the items that loaded on Factor 3 (Cooperative Think-
ing or Kooperatibang Pag-Iisip). The factor received a high positive loading from
the external items and a high negative loading from the internal items, showing
the contrast between the two styles. Yet, the factor was also positively loaded with
oligarchic items, suggesting that individuals who prefer to work with others when
engaged in cognitive tasks (the external style) also prefer to work on several tasks
at the same time without prioritizing them (the oligarchic style). The preference
for working with other people seems to complement the abilities required in per-
forming multiple tasks. Therefore, underlying this pattern of stylistic preferences,
there is an element of cooperativism, which is a recurring concept in studies of
Filipino personality. In particular, the concept and practice of bayanihan (togeth-
erness in common effort; Elequin, 1974) is typically used to describe how Fil-
ipinos go out of their way to work together in concerted effort to extend assis-
tance to relatives, neighbors, and even strangers. This practice is viewed as an
expression of the Filipino concept of kapwa (shared identity and humanity;
Enriquez, 1992). It is reasonable to assume that these cultural concepts and prac-
tices afford students the opportunity to draw from the cognitive resources of their
peers as they attend to multiple tasks.
The configuration of thinking styles embodied in Factors 1 and 2, Liberal
Thinking (Malayang Pag-Iisip) and Structured Thinking (Maayos Na Pag-Iisip),
might correspond to ways of thinking that are developed in the Philippine school
system. Malayang pag-iisip is akin to the inquiring attitude that schools seek to
promote among their students. On the other hand, maayos na pag-iisip embodies
the disciplined thought that schools try to instill. These two forms of thinking might
be associated with tasks particular to different types of courses in the curriculum
(e.g., the arts and humanities, on the one hand, and the sciences and mathematics,
on the other). However, some researchers suggest that these two ways of thinking
could be equally valued within the same types of courses. Bernardo (in press), for
example, found that Filipino mathematics teachers advocated teaching practices
aimed at developing both inquiry and disciplined thought,whereas,even at present,
mathematics educators in the West tend to promote one over the other. Filipino
teachers of science were found to hold similar beliefs (Bernardo, Clemeña, & Pru-
dente, 2000). On the basis of their beliefs about learning and teaching, it appears
that Filipino teachers create learning environments that require their students to
develop thinking processes that focus on trying out new and creative ways of think-
ing (malayang pag-iisip or liberal thinking) as well as more disciplined ways of
thinking (maayos na pag-iisip or structured thinking). These contexts of learning
demonstrate how preferences for configurations of learning styles might emerge.
Bernardo, Zhang, & Callueng 159
One may also see how learning styles relate to academic achievement with-
in the Philippine educational context. Recall that 6 scales were correlated with
GPA: Executive, Judicial, Conservative, Hierarchic, Anarchic, and Internal. The
Executive, Conservative, Hierarchic, and Judicial Scales loaded on Factor 2, and
the Anarchic, Internal, and Judicial Scales loaded on Factor 1. (Notice that the
Judicial Scale loaded on both factors.) This pattern of correlation supports the
notion that aspects of both ways of thinking are valued in the Filipino learning
environment. Thus, thinking styles that are associated with both Factors 1 and 2
are related to achievement.
Although we did not intend this to be a comparative study, some differences
may be observed between the pattern of correlations we found and the results of
Grigorenko and Sternberg’s (1997) study that involved American students. Recall
for example, that the executive style was positively correlated with achievement
for Filipino students, but the same style was negatively correlated with achieve-
ment for American students. Although the difference may have resulted from
sampling, as previously noted, it may also be attributed to the prioritizing of
thinking styles by the different educational systems. According to the theory of
mental self-government, different cultures may value some thinking styles over
others. Formal educational institutions tend to promote knowledge and skills that
are valued by the larger culture or society within which they operate. Accord-
ingly, educational systems in different cultures might also value and encourage
different thinking styles. In this connection, the finding that one thinking style
was positively correlated with achievement in one country, but negatively corre-
lated in another, may reflect cultural preferences for thinking styles.
Researchers have found that within the Philippine educational system (e.g.,
Bernardo, 2000; Hornedo, Miralao, & Santa Maria, 2000) there seems to be an
emphasis on educational goals related to the attainment and mastery of prescribed
and predefined knowledge, skills, and approaches to cognitive tasks. This empha-
sis is evident in the curricular prescriptions of such official documents as the
Philippine Elementary Learning Competencies and the Philippine Secondary
School Learning Competencies. Because the education system stresses the exec-
utive thinking style, it is not surprising to find a correlation between that style and
academic achievement among Filipino students. Although we do not presume to
have extensive knowledge of the American educational system, it seems plausi-
ble that the Philippine educational system places a higher priority on the execu-
tive thinking processes than does its American counterpart. By recognizing such
differences in how educational institutions value some thinking styles over oth-
ers, researchers may attain a better understanding of how thinking styles are relat-
ed to school performance in different cultures.
In this discussion, we have attempted to link our specific pattern of results
to Filipino cultural concepts and practices, particularly those related to Philippine
schools. In doing so, we have drawn from the assumption of the theory of men-
tal self-government (Sternberg, 1988, 1997) that cultural factors may influence
The Journal of Genetic Psychology
how thinking styles develop in a sociocultural context. Our investigation involved
a post hoc interpretation of results. In future studies, researchers should approach
this topic more explicitly, by performing more systematic cross-cultural compar-
isons and by posing specific hypotheses regarding the nature of thinking styles
and how thinking styles relate to the academic achievement of individuals in dif-
ferent cultures. Such studies will fine-tune the assumptions of Sternberg’s (1988,
1997) theory and, of particular importance, clarify the sociocultural develop-
mental processes that shape how different thinking styles become interrelated.
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