Howard Gardner's Nine Types of Intelligence

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While Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences has been critiqued for having never been tested or subjected to peer review, many educators prefer it as a "common sense" alternative to a unitary concept of intelligence purportedly measured by psychometric tests. Gardner argues that IQ tests only address linguistic, logical, and some aspects of spatial intelligence, and attempts to address other types of intelligence. Educational consultant Dr. Thomas Armstrong believes that each "type" of intelligence also provides a potential pathway for learning. Though Gardner's work provides an alternative groundwork for moving away from psychometric tests and a view of intelligence as a unitary phenomenon, it also has many flaws beyond its lack of empirical validity, including its failure to consider development (such as Piaget's work) or emotional intelligence (a la Goleman).

Each "type" of intelligence is broken down into the component skills or capabilities Gardner associates with it, as well as particular tasks or jobs he sees as benefiting from it.

Naturalistic Intelligence[edit | edit source]

Added in 1999, this type of intelligence purports to deal with the natural world, but appears to have less to do with human interactions with nature and more to do with visual and observational skills used to discriminate between objects, shapes, textures, smells, etc.

  • discriminating
    • recognizing and distinguishing between plants and animals
  • sensitive
    • noticing geological formations, clouds, etc.
  • agriculture
  • cooking
  • consumer culture
    • discriminating between 'products'

Musical Intelligence[edit | edit source]

Gardner does not expound much on the link between music and the emotions (no wonder, as he appears to completely ignore emotional intelligence) or on the link between music and mathematics.

  • discerning
    • identify pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone
  • recognizing
    • identify instruments, familiar tunes, etc.
  • creating
    • produce original music
  • imitating
    • reproduce others' music
  • contemplating
    • make observations about music
  • sensitive listeners
    • aware of sounds others may miss
  • emotional link
  • mathematical link

Logical-mathematical Intelligence[edit | edit source]

This is essentially analytical or 'rational' thought.

  • calculating
  • quantifying
  • categorical
  • considering propositions and hypotheses
  • solving math problems
  • perceiving relationships and connections
  • using abstract symbolic thought
  • sequential reasoning
  • inductive and deductive thinking
  • interested in patterns
  • mathematicians
  • scientists
  • detectives

Existential Intelligence[edit | edit source]

Gardner also considered calling this 'moral' intelligence, and has not developed this type very extensively; it receives little mention or attention in other articles on Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.

  • asking 'deep' questions
    • why are we here, why do we die? etc.

Interpersonal Intelligence[edit | edit source]

This appears to be much more concerned with 'effective' communication to gain resources, not emotional communication; there is no mention or consideration of empathy here.

  • understanding
    • aware of others' feelings and motives
  • communicating
  • perspective-taking
  • sensitivity
    • recognizing others' moods and temperaments
  • teachers
  • social workers
  • actors
  • politicians

Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence[edit | edit source]

  • fine motor skills
  • gross motor skills
  • coordination
  • timing
  • mind–body union
  • athletes
  • dancers
  • surgeons
  • craftspeople

Linguistic Intelligence[edit | edit source]

  • think in words
    • understand the order and meaning of words
  • meta-linguistic skills
    • reflect on use of language
  • writing
  • reading
  • storytelling
  • crossword puzzles
  • poets
  • novelists
  • journalists
  • 'effective' public speakers

Intra-personal Intelligence[edit | edit source]

  • self-awareness
  • self-understanding
  • self-motivation
  • introspection
  • appreciates 'the human condition'
  • psychologists
  • spiritual leaders
  • philosophers

Spatial Intelligence[edit | edit source]

  • think in three dimensions
  • mental imagery
  • spatial reasoning
  • image manipulation
  • graphic and artistic skills
  • active imagination
  • daydreaming
  • sailors
  • pilots
  • sculptors
  • painters
  • architects

Gardner mentions 'imagination' only in the context of spatial intelligence, just as he mentions 'creativity' only in the context of musical intelligence. There are a number of false distinctions or areas of overlap that go unacknowledged. While there is definitely a need for an alternative model to stand against psychometric testing and the concept of intelligence as a single phenomenon, Gardner's work only provides a 'theory' in the philosophical sense, and does not stand up as a scientific theory or a model in its current state.