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Types of Multiple Intelligences


Dr. Howard Gardner introduced the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) in his classic book, ‘Frames of Mind’, published by Basic Books in 1983. In this scholarly work. Gardner provided extensive evidence for his proposition that there is more to intelligence than what shows up on an IQ score. Gardner’s philosophy is based on a unique definition of Intelligence as a term which describes one or more capacities of the mind. In different contexts this can be defined in different ways, including the capacities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving. Intelligence is most widely studied in humans, but may also be observed in animals and plants. Dr. Gardner carefully describes how a broad array of evidence supports the powerful idea that the human mind possesses a mix of nine distinct forms of intelligence. In ‘Frames of Mind’, Howard Gardner suggested seven intelligences, but in 1996 he added the eighth intelligence to the list, i.e. Naturalist, in recognition that the understanding of living things (flora and fauna) is not sufficiently covered by the original seven intelligences. Dr. Gardner has now incorporated ‘Existential Intelligence’ into the spectrum of Intelligences. Here is a brief description of each of the nine intelligences:

Musical Intelligence: This deals with sensitivity and response to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. People with a high musical intelligence normally have good pitch and, less commonly, perfect pitch they can to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. Since there is a strong auditory component to this intelligence, those who are strongest in it may learn well through lectures. Language and mathematical skills are typically highly developed in those whose base intelligence is musical. In addition, they will sometimes use songs or rhythms to learn. They are sensitive to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre. Careers that suit those with this intelligence include instrumentalists, singers, conductors, orators, arrangers and composers.

Intrapersonal Intelligence: This area concerns introspective and self-reflective capacities. People with intrapersonal intelligence are intuitive and often introverted. They are skillful at deciphering, if not demonstrating, their own feelings and motivations. This may lead to a deep understanding of self, one’s strengths/ weaknesses and what makes one unique enabling one to predict your own reactions/ emotions. Careers which suit those with this intelligence include philosophers, psychologists, theologians, lawyers, writers. One must beware depression as a result of years of constant self-doubting them and comparison with others. People with intrapersonal intelligence often prefer to work alone.

Naturalistic Intelligence: This area has to do with nature, nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings. Careers which suit those with this intelligence include naturalists, farmers, gardeners, wildlife conservators and all relating to the outdoor life.

Existential Intelligence: Some proponents of multiple intelligence theory proposed spiritual or religious intelligence as a possible additional type. Gardner did not want to commit to a spiritual intelligence, but suggested that an "existential" intelligence may be a useful construct. The hypothesis of an existential intelligence has been further explored by educational researchers. Along with its spirtual connotations, existential intelligences encompasses the ability to contemplate phenomena or questions beyond sensory data, such as the infinite and infinitesimal. Careers or callings which suit those with this intelligence include religious devotees, mathematicians, physicists, scientists, cosmol

Spatial Intelligence: This area deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind's eye. Careers which suit those with this type of intelligence include artists, designers and architects. A spatial person is also good with geometric puzzles that can baffle others.

Kinesthetic Intelligence: The core elements of the kinesthetic-bodily intelligence are control of one's bodily motions and the capacity to handle objects skillfully. Gardner elaborates to say that this intelligence also includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses so they become as reflexes. In theory, people who have bodily-kinesthetic intelligence should learn better by involving muscular movement (e.g. getting up and moving around into the learning experience), and are generally good at physical activities such as sports or dance. They may enjoy acting or performing, and in general they are good at building and making things. They often learn best by doing something physically, rather than by reading or hearing about it. Those with strong bodily-kinesthetic intelligence seem to use what might be termed muscle memory - they remember things through their body such as verbal memory. Careers that suit those with this intelligence include: athletes, pilots, dancers, musicians, actors, surgeons, doctors, builders, police officers, and soldiers. Although these careers can be duplicated through virtual simulation, they will not produce the actual physical learning that is needed in this intelligence.

Interpersonal Intelligence: This area concerns interaction with others. In theory, people who have a high interpersonal intelligence tend to be extroverts, characterized by their sensitivity to others' moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations, and their ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group. They communicate effectively and empathize easily with others, and may be either leaders or followers. They typically learn best by working with others and often enjoy discussion and debate. Careers that suit those with this intelligence include sales, politicians, managers, teachers and social workers.

Linguistic Intelligence: This describes a facility with words, spoken or written. People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence have a high comfort level with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and often can memorize words and dates. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and by discussing and debating what they have learned. Those with verbal-linguistic intelligence can learn foreign languages very easily, or display an excellent knowledge o their mother tongue as they have high verbal memory and recall, along with an ability to understand and manipulate syntax and structure.

Logical Intelligence: This area has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning and numbers. While it is often assumed that those with this intelligence naturally excel in mathematics, chess, computer programming and other logical or numerical activities, a more accurate definition places less emphasis on traditional mathematical ability and more on reasoning capabilities, recognizing abstract patterns, scientific thinking and investigation and the ability to perform complex calculations.