gardners-theory-of-multiple-intelligences

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences

  • Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences posits that humans are not born with all of the intelligence they will ever possess.
  • Gardner believed common assertions about intelligence were incorrect or limited at best. He proposed that people possess multiple types of intellectual competencies to capture the full spectrum of human talents and abilities.
  • Gardner’s eight types of intelligence are linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, music, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist.

Understanding Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences posits that humans are not born with all of the intelligence they will ever possess.

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence was developed by Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner and first proposed in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Intelligence is a concept that is often mentioned in the same breath as intellectual potential.

Many believe this potential is inherited from our parents and, as a result, is something we are stuck with. Others believe intellect is directly related to IQ or some other quantifiable measure.

In his book, Gardner believed these assertions were incorrect or limited at best. He proposed that people must have multiple types of intellectual competencies to capture the full spectrum of human talents and abilities. 

Let’s take a look at these types in the next section.

Gardner’s eight types of intelligence

Gardner defined intelligence as the “biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture.” 

He also identified several so-called “candidate intelligences” in his research, but only eight of them satisfied the inclusion criteria that were based on various scientific principles. 

The eight types of intelligence are:

1 – Linguistic intelligence (word smart) 

These individuals have technical proficiency in the written and spoken word. They may also possess the capacity to use language to achieve goals or create products. William Shakespeare and Oprah are two such examples.

2 – Logical-mathematical intelligence (number/reasoning smart)

These individuals can think abstractly and discern numerical or logical topics. Albert Einstein and Bill Gates possess this form of intelligence because they can develop equations and proofs, make calculations, and solve problems.

3 – Spatial intelligence (picture smart)

Gardner defined spatial intelligence as the ability to solve spatial problems of navigation, visualize objects from various angles, notice fine details, and recognize specific faces or scenes.

Spatial intelligence is normally present in artists, architects, chess players, surgeons, pilots, and sculptors. 

4 – Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (body smart)

Those with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence use their bodies (or parts thereof) to create products, perform skills, or solve problems.

NBA superstar Michael Jordan is one example.

5 – Musical intelligence (music smart)

Singers, composers, and other musicians possess skills that enable them to perform, compose, and appreciate music and musical patterns. They can recognize pitch, rhythm, melody, timbre, and tone. 

Examples include Beethoven and Adele.

6 – Interpersonal intelligence (people smart)

Interpersonal intelligence is the capacity to work well with others based on an understanding of their motivations, needs, and desires. This can be present in teachers, philanthropists, managers, salespeople, and public relations staff.

Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi immediately spring to mind here.

7 – Intrapersonal intelligence (self smart)

As the name suggests, those with intrapersonal intelligence have a detailed understanding of themselves.

Their ability to be self-reflective means they know their strengths and weaknesses and can even predict how they will react in certain situations.

Greek philosopher Aristotle (and many like him) possessed intrapersonal intelligence.

8 – Naturalist intelligence (nature smart)

Naturalist intelligence was not part of the initial list of intelligences, with Gardner first proposing it in 1995 some twelve years after the release of his book.

Those such as Charles Darwin and David Attenborough can classify numerous species of flora and fauna.

They can also make other consequential observations about the natural world such as those related to mountains and rocks.

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