Multiple Intelligences

Many ways to excel and contribute

Are you intelligent? Are your friends intelligent? Are your teachers or professors intelligent? Your immediate answer to these questions should be, “Yes!”. Today, the idea of intelligence is no longer limited to only one kind of intelligence, popularly known as “IQ”, or Intelligence Quotient. Today’s view has expanded to include many different kinds of intelligence, which cover a wide variety of strengths. According to the theory of Multiple Intelligences, proposed by Dr. Howard Gardiner of Harvard University, we have not one, but seven or eight different intelligences or ways in which we express our intelligence. At one time, we asked “How intelligent is that person?”. Today, with the emergence of the theory of multiple intelligences, the key question has become, “How is that person intelligent?”

This theory can help you develop a profile of your own dominant intelligences. It can enable you to view yourself as a fundamentally intelligent being, who expresses his or her smartness in a particular way. This is vastly different from thinking about yourself, or others, as “smart” or “not smart”. The eight intelligences generally identified are: linguistic, mathematical/logical, musical, visual/spatial, physical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. By recognizing your dominant intelligences and using a range of intelligences while studying, you can enhance your ability to learn.

Linguistic Intelligence

Characteristics of linguistic intelligence include having a talent with language and the ability to read and write well. Writers, speakers, trainers, orators, and professors are all intelligent in this way. Examples of famous people with linguistic intelligence are Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln.

Mathematical / Logical Intelligence

Being proficient with numbers and being able to think logically, systematically, and analytically are associated with mathematical/logical intelligence. Those who have careers in engineering, accounting, or science possess this kind of intelligence. Examples are Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Musical Intelligence

Musical intelligence implies the ability to understand, appreciate, and create music. Musicians, composers, and sound editors all have this strength, as do those who are able to keep rhythm with music. Mozart, Bach, and Louis Armstrong are strong examples.

Visual / Spatial Intelligence

Individuals with visual/spatial intelligence are able to see things in their mind’s eye and to visualize and plan internally. Artists, architects, interior designers, graphic designers, city planners, and landscapers all have these abilities. Examples are Leonardo da Vinci and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Physical / Kinesthetic Intelligence

Physical, bodily, or kinesthetic intelligence can be witnessed in those with athletic ability as well as manual dexterity. These include athletes, dancers, mechanics, surgeons, craftspeople, and yoga or aerobics instructors. Examples are Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, and Charlie Chaplin.

Interpersonal Intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence includes the ability to relate to others, get along with them, communicate with them, and empathize with them. Psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, salespeople, parents, diplomats, teachers, and leaders all need this type of strength. Examples of famous ones are Mother Theresa and John F. Kennedy.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

Intrapersonal intelligence is characterized by the ability and desire to introspect and analyze one’s own behavior. People who have this type of intelligence may have careers as researchers, philosophers, or psychologists. Well-known examples are Socrates and Freud.

Naturalistic Intelligence

Naturalistic intelligence refers to the ability to relate to the natural world, such as trees, plants, soil, water, and animals. This intelligence is displayed by farmers, biologists, and environmentalists, who can organize patterns in nature. Charles Darwin is a prime example.

Multiple Intelligences & Academic Success

In terms of academic performance, students with linguistic and mathematical/linguistic intelligence are the most prized by formal school systems. They usually perform well on the kinds of tests and exams required to gain admission to college or university. However, once they begin their careers they will need a variety of intelligences in order to be successful overall. Being aware of your unique intelligence profile will help you develop study techniques that build on your strengths. It will also help you make a conscious effort to balance your learning effort by using the full range of intelligences available to you.

Multiple Intelligences Quiz

Complete the following true or false quiz to check how much you now know about multiple intelligences.

  • Everyone is intelligent in a different way.
  • People with strong linguistic intelligence are likely to enjoy crossword puzzles.
  • Some intelligences are more important for academic success.
  • People with strong intra-personal intelligence enjoy going to parties and socializing.
  • If you enjoy keeping budgets and family accounts, you probably have mathematical intelligence.
  • Map reading is a characteristic of interpersonal intelligence.
  • You are displaying musical intelligence when you tap your fingers or foot in rhythm with the music.
  • If you enjoy gardening and camping, it shows you have some naturalist intelligence.

1-T, 2-T, 3-T, 4-F, 5-T, 6-F, 7-T, 8-T