Multiple Intelligences


Author: Adekola Taylor
November, 2013

Psychology first came to the attention of the general public through intelligence testing. During World War I, Army Alpha, a group of intelligence test administered to recruits, was taken by more than a million American men. It was about the same period the work of Lewis Madison Terman with the Stanford-Binet tests of intelligence came into limelight, attracting a great deal of attention in the popular press. In recent times, there have been a lot of arguments on the limitations of various available intelligence tests. Many are of the opinion that popular intelligence tests are only designed to test verbal and logical reasoning, and that there are other types of human intelligence that cannot be measured by these popular intelligence tests.

Howard Gardner, proponent of theory of multiple intelligences, is a prominent psychologist in this school of thought. Gardner believed that previous definitions of the concept of intelligence were not broad and could not be used to judge all the areas of life where human could excel (Mortley, 2006). Therefore, intelligence can simply be defined as unique set of capabilities and potentials possessed by an individual for exhibition of intellectual abilities. People have various manifestations of intellectual abilities through their gifts and talents. However, life experience has proven that the expression of these intellectual abilities varies among populations. Some may express high degree of certain intellectual abilities than others based on their inherent gifts and talents. For example, an individual may be highly gifted artistically but lowly gifted socially.

According to Gardner, there are nine types of intelligence namely: interpersonal intelligence, verbal-linguistic intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial-visual intelligence, musical intelligence, naturalistic intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, and existential intelligence (, 2013). The ninth intelligence, existential intelligence, was based on suggestion by Gardner, although he didn't include it in his theory. The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that an individual has a mixture of intelligences; however, their degree of expression may vary with one or more having optimal degree of dominance. For instance, an individual intelligence may be dominated with musical and interpersonal intelligence with low expression of other intelligences. If such an individual were allowed to pursue careers or undertake jobs related to his intelligence preferences, he would perform excellently. Moreover, the theory of multiple intelligence focuses on human potential in respect to individual strengths, preferences and personality.

The Nine Intelligences by Howard Gardner

1. Verbal-linguistic Intelligence: This is characterized by aptitude with language and speech. An individual with this kind of intelligence would be good at telling stories, writing, memorizing words and reading. People with this intelligence are good in the following areas: spoken and written words, using language to interpret and to explain information and ideas, and understanding association between meaning and communication. People that fall into this category of intelligence are editors, copywriters, writers, historians, journalists, linguists, translators, TV and radio presenters, trainers, teachers, professors, speakers, lawyers, poets, PR and media consultants etc. Verbal IQ in WAIS III can be used to measure this type of intelligence.

2. Logical-mathematical Intelligence:This is characterized by concrete reasoning, abstract reasoning, linear reasoning, causal relationship and complex operations. Logical-mathematical intelligence may be defined as the ability to apply deductive and inductive reasoning skills to proffer solutions to complex logical and mathematical challenges. It is the ability to recognize patterns, cause and effect relationship among ideas, occurrences, objects, actions and activities. People with this intelligence are good in the following areas: analysis of problems, performing mathematical operations, scientific deduction and reasoning, detection of patterns and order, understanding cause and effect relationship among things etc. People that fall into this category of intelligence are traders, statisticians, analysts, arbitrators, scientists, researchers, bankers, engineers, computer programmers, negotiator, accountants etc. Your logical-mathematical intelligence can be improved through the following: playing logical games with friends, solving puzzles and brain teasers, helping kids with their science homework, learning basic computer programming, using prediction and reasoning, playing computer games, practicing sequential step-by-step thinking, looking for patterns in events etc.

3. Musical Intelligence:This is the ability or talent to appreciate and produce timbre, rhythms, sounds, music and tone. People with this intelligence are able to compose music, sing, play musical instruments and they have good pitch. They are good in the following areas: appreciation, use and awareness of sound, understanding relationship between feeling and sound, recognition of rhythmic and tonal patterns. People that fall into this category of intelligence are composers, entertainers, music producers, singers, acoustic engineers, voice coaches, musical performers, musical instrument repair specialist, DJs etc.

4. Visual-spatial Intelligence: This intelligence involves the ability to visualize and think in pictures and images. An individual with this kind of intelligence would be good in the following areas: pictorial imagination and expression, creation and interpretation of visual images, understanding correlation between space and effect and between meanings and images. People that fall into this category of intelligence are sculptors, photographers, inventors, architects, artists, cartographers, engineers, graphic designers etc.

5. Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence:This is characterized by the ability to dexterously control and master objects and to control one's bodily motions skillfully. An individual with this kind of intelligence would be good in the following areas: coordination of body and eye, manual dexterity and physical balance. People that fall into this category of intelligence are physicians, actors, athletes, physical education teachers, nurses, dancers, biologists, anthropologists, geologists, soldiers, builders, physical therapists and instrumentalists.

6. Interpersonal Intelligence:This is characterized by the ability to understand others for effective relationship, coordination and communication. An individual with a high interpersonal intelligence has the ability to recognize and response to the desires, motivations and moods of others appropriately. They are good socially in the following areas: relating to others, interpretation of communication, attitude and behavior, understanding of people. People that fall into this category of intelligence are trainers, therapists, advertising professionals, care givers, teachers, sales-people, counselors, psychologists, politicians, coaches, educators, mentors, mediators, HR professionals etc.

7. Intrapersonal Intelligence:This is the ability to understand oneself and it is characterized by high degree of insight and self awareness. What are your visions and dreams in life? What are your weaknesses and strong points? What are your feelings? What are your likes and dislikes? What are your talents and potentials? Etc. Intrapersonal intelligence is the capacity to know who you are and the capacity to use the understanding of whom you are to guide your behaviors and aspirations in life.

8. Naturalist Intelligence:This involves ability to recognize naturalistic patterns, to understand natural kinds e.g. animals, plants and other natural things. People that fall into this category of intelligence are farmers, gardeners, hunters, botanists, chef etc.

9. Existential Intelligence:Some proponents of multiple intelligences proposed additional type of intelligence called existential intelligence (, 2013). This can also be called religion or spiritual intelligence. This intelligence worth considering because some people are natural gifted in sprituality. Though the world always tries to shy away from the spiritual things but the fact still remains that some people are naturally gifted spiritually. People that fall into this category of intelligence are clergy men and women, spiritual leaders of various world religions.

It is believed that cognitive abilities are wide, and many people are gifted with talents and potentials that should be explored and exploited for the betterment of the gifted and the society. There could be some interesting kinds of intelligence that have not been fully understudied. Some of these intelligences may not be exposed for safety and security reasons. But it is crystal clear that as humans are advancing more types of intelligence would surface out. The onus of responsibility lies on us as humans to always be smart enough in developing and managing the best kind of intelligences for the betterment and advancement of the society.

See Also: Dreams, Visions, and Empowerment; The Etiology of IQ; Stop Teen Cosmetic Surgery; Human Development and Aging; How to Stop All Your Bad Habits in just 21 Days; Your World and You Thoughts Thinking for You Series; The Black People: We Need A Change; Logical-Mathematical Reasoning for Teens; Regenerative Mathematics and Dimurelo Puzzles for Children; The Thoughts You Need to Think; Mathematical Discoveries; The Foundation of American Constitution: A Lesson for All


Motley, La'Sarah-evette (2006).The intelligence theories of Charles Spearman and Howard Gardner. Retrieved October 26, 2013 from (2013). Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Retrieved October 26, 2013 from


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