It may be claimed that motivation may be the most important factor in individuals’ success or failure. Generally, motivation may be seen as a drive which may push other factors in people to move or stop moving toward their goals. In the literature available, many studies have dealt with the nature of achievement motivation and its roots (Murray, 1938; McClelland, 1951; McClelland, Atkinson, Clark, & Lowell, 1953). On the other hand, individuals’ preferences to use their abilities or their thinking styles, may have an effect on how they activate their motivation to subsequently activate other cognitive, and affective domains to move toward their goals (Zhang & Sternberg, 1998; Zhang, 2002; Zhang, 2004a ). Hence, this study investigates the relationship between thinking style and achievement motivation among Iranian EFL learners.
Traditionally, it was believed that having an account of learners’ individual differences may enable researchers to predict learners’ success and failure. However, cognitive-styles movement in the late 1960s proved it was not the case. Proposing Mental Self-Government Theory (MSG), Sternberg (1988, 1994, and 1997) asserts that as there are many ways of governing societies, there exist various ways of managing everyday activities. People’s preferences of using their abilities in different ways are called thinking styles. Styles are neither good nor bad; they are just preference of individuals and their utilizing is the function of individuals’ interaction with the task and the situation in which the task is being performed.
MSG delineates 13 thinking styles; namely, legislative, executive, judicial, monarchic, hierarchical, oligarchic, anarchic, global, local, liberal, conservative, internal, and external styles, which Zhang and Sternberg (2005, 2006) classified them into three major types based on empirical studies (e.g., Zhang, 1999, 2002; Zhang & Sternberg, 2001). Juvenile Delinquency
Type I thinking styles, including the legislative, judicial, hierarchical, global, and liberal styles, are more creativity-generating and complex. Type II thinking styles, including the executive, local, monarchic, and conservative styles, suggest a norm-favoring tendency and simplistic nature. Type III styles, including the anarchic, oligarchic, internal, and external styles, depend on the stylistic demand of the specific task or contexts.
MSG theory has been studied in various contexts; the United States (e.g., Grigorenko & Sternberg, 1997), Spain (e.g., Cano-Garcia & Hughes, 2000), the Philippines (e.g., Bernardo, Zhang, & Callueng, 2002), Hong Kong (e.g., Zhang & Sternberg, 2002), mainland China (Zhang, 2004b), Korea (e.g., Park, Park, & Choe, 2005), Norway (e.g., Fjell & Walhovd, 2004), and Turkey (e.g., Fer, 2005). Besides, the Thinking Styles Inventory (TSI, Sternberg &Wagner, 1992) as an instrument used for operationalization of MSG theory has shown to have good psychometric properties (Cano-Garcia & Hughes, 2000; Kaufman, 2001; Zhang, 2004a; Zhang, 2004c; Zhang, 2005) in different contexts.
Definitely, thinking styles play an important role in students’ cognitive (Zhang & Sternberg, 2000), affective (Zhang, 2001), and psycho-social development (Zhang, 2002); however, contradictory results in some cases (e.g., Sternberg and Grigorenko, 1995; Tso 1998; Ho 1998) testify the need to study thinking styles across more diverse contexts and in relation with other variables.