Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1–53 | Cite as

A Threefold Model of Intellectual Styles

  • Li-fang ZhangEmail author
  • Robert J. Sternberg


The field of styles presents three major controversial issues: styles as value-laden versus value-free, styles as traits versus states, and styles as different constructs versus similar constructs with different labels. We address these issues by proposing an integrative model of styles—the Threefold Model of Intellectual Styles—which divides all styles into three basic kinds. The foundation of this model is Sternberg and Zhang’s body of empirical investigations into the thinking styles proposed in the theory of mental self-government. The model also draws upon others’ previous empirical findings in the literature. The model argues that most styles are value-laden rather than value-free; that they have both trait-like and state-like aspects, but for the most part are modifiable and hence more state-like; and that they overlap highly across theories.


integrative model intellectual styles thinking styles learning styles cognitive styles 


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© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongHong KongP. R. China
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew Haven
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongHong Kong

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