- People do not have a set intellectual capacity.
- Psychologist, Howard Gardner, introduced the theory of multiple types of intelligence.
- According to Gardner there are nine different types of intelligence.
- An understanding of one’s areas of intelligence can be useful when striving to maximise one’s strengths.
The word intelligence often conjures up images of maths and science or IQ tests and complicated algorithms. People who are thought to have high intelligence are valued and often considered a cut above the rest. How do you measure intelligence however? And, is there only one kind? What if you are useless at maths, but brilliant at languages…does that make you unintelligent?
These are the very questions that Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner addressed in his 1983 book, “Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” Here, Gardener explains that people do not have a set intellectual capacity, but rather many kinds of intelligences, for example a person can be musically intelligent, but terrible with numbers. In his book, Gardener argues that traditional psychometric views of measuring intelligence are too narrow and that they can’t possibly capture all the abilities and talents people possess. He states that it would be incomplete to judge someone’s intelligence by one or two factors alone. In fact, Gardener suggests that there are nine different types of intelligence, which one are you?
1. Naturalistic Intelligence
Have you noticed how some people can make anything grow? It’s as if they have a ‘green thumb’. Others connect with animals easily and some are completely at home in nature. Naturalistic intelligence describes people who are sensitive to the natural world. They enjoy being outside, nurturing and exploring the environment. People with high naturalistic intelligence are sensitive to subtle changes in nature and the environment around them.
2. Musical Intelligence
Not everyone has green thumbs and a love for the great outdoors. Instead, some people are naturally drawn towards music. People with musical intelligence are generally more sensitive to sound and often pick up on noises that others would not normally be aware of. They have an excellent sense of rhythm and the ability to recognise tone and pitch. More often than not they play an instrument or are involved in music as a profession.
3. Logical–Mathematical Intelligence
Of all the types of intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence is the most similar to what we typically associate with general intelligence. People with this type of intelligence are excellent at maths and working with numbers. They can recognise patterns easily and work out processes in a logical manner. They have excellent reasoning skills and can often talk themselves out of trouble. People with high logical–mathematical intelligence are often drawn to games involving strategy and the solving of puzzles.
4. Existential Intelligence
While many of us are happy with going about our lives day by day, people with high levels of existential intelligence often think more deeply about daily occurrences. They ask questions similar to why are we here? And, what is the point of all this? They are often deeply philosophical thinkers and they have the capacity to look for answers to questions bigger than themselves. Existential intelligence is often called spiritual or moral intelligence.
5. Interpersonal Intelligence
Do you have a natural ability to get on well with others? Are you good at reading people and social situations? If this is the case, chances are that you have a high level of interpersonal intelligence. People with this type of intelligence are often good at reading verbal and non-verbal cues as well as determining temperament and mood. They feel empathy easily. Often this type of intelligence can be found in politicians, social workers, life coaches and psychologists.
6. Linguistic Intelligence
Linguistic Intelligence is the type of intelligence that is most commonly shared by humans. It involves our ability to think in words and use these words to make oneself understood. People with high linguistic intelligence are very good at putting their feelings and thoughts into words in order to make others understand them. They are drawn to activities such as reading, writing and public speaking.
7. Bodily–Kinesthetic Intelligence
People high in Bodily–kinesthetic intelligence have an excellent sense of timing and a great mind-body coordination as well as fine and gross motor skills. They are able to use their bodies to convey feelings and ideas and, as a result, they often take up roles in dance, sports or medicine. They use their bodies to solve problems and create something meaningful.
8. Intra–Personal Intelligence
Do you understand your thoughts, feelings and emotions and are you able to use this understanding in your everyday life? If this is the case, you probably have high intra-personal intelligence. Intra-personal intelligence refers to an understanding of oneself and the human condition as a whole. They are known as ‘self-smart’ people and, despite having a deeper understanding of their own emotions, they are often quite shy. Philosophers, spiritual leaders, psychologist and writers usually have high intra-personal intelligence.
9. Spatial Intelligence
Spatial intelligence is defined as the ability to consider things in three dimensions. People with high spatial intelligence are generally very creative and usually have a vivid imagination, high artistic ability and excellent spatial reasoning. These people are often referred to as ‘picture smart’ and can be found in professions such as architecture, design and map reading.
It must be noted that Gardner’s theory received harsh criticism from psychologists. Many felt that his definition of intelligence is too broad, merely representing skills and talents and not intelligence per se. His lack of empirical research has also been questioned. Despite this however his theory of multiple intelligence is still widely used by teachers and educators. A good understanding of the different types of intelligence can help one identify one’s skills and talents, thus pointing you in the right direction when choosing a future career or area of study. Besides, isn’t it nice to know that even if you are completely useless at maths it doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t smart!
Which are you?