Advertising
Advertising

Published on September 17, 2020

9 Types of Intelligence (And How to Know Your Type)

9 Types of Intelligence (And How to Know Your Type)

When I was a child, my mom told me I was special—that there was no one on Earth just like me. Now, I’m of two minds when it comes to teaching our children that they’re special.

First, it’s true. We all have strengths, weaknesses, and proclivities that make us different from other people. I’ll get to my second interpretation of teaching everyone they’re special after a deep dive into Howard Gardner’s Theory of multiple intelligences.

Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Harvard professor Howard Gardner introduced the world to his theory of multiple intelligences in his 1983 book, Frames of Mind. Simply put, the idea is that one’s intellectual intelligence or IQ doesn’t tell the complete story about someone’s full range of potential.

Therefore, Gardner proposed eight types of intelligence to more accurately measure a broader range of human strengths and abilities. Gardner’s types of intelligence are in line with what most of us have been brought up to believe—that we are all special because we all have different strengths and interests.

Let’s take a look at Gardner’s original seven types of intelligence plus two more that he’s added over the years. By examining the definitions and characteristics of each type of intelligence, you should be able to discern which types of intelligence you’re strongest in.

9 Types of Intelligence

Read the following definitions for the nine types of intelligence and then answer the questions in each to see how you stack up.

1. Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Visual-Spatial Intelligence has to do with how well someone is at maneuvering through space and visualizing things. People with high visual-spatial intelligence tend to excel at identifying patterns and interpreting charts and graphs.

If you’re usually the navigator and map reader of your squad, you just might have high visual-spatial intelligence.

Questions: Are you good at reading maps? Do you rarely get lost? Can you visualize objects moving and changing through space? Do you have a good sense of direction?

These could all be signs of high visual-spatial intelligence.

Advertising

2. Linguistic-Verbal Intelligence

Linguistic-Verbal Intelligence is all about words, words, words. We’re talking great readers, writers, and speakers. Generally, if someone can tell a good story and memorize words quickly, they have high linguistic-verbal intelligence.

Questions: Are you a good writer? Do you enjoy playing around with language and wording? Are you good at memorizing things? Can you explain yourself easily to others? Are you a good communicator?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you probably have high linguistic-verbal intelligence.

3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Logical-Mathematical intelligence is about logical problem solving and number sense. People with high logical-mathematical intelligence would obviously be great at solving math problems and be strong conceptual thinkers. Think of scientists and mathematicians.

Questions: Are you good at math? Do you excel at logical problem-solving? If you’re given a brainteaser, are you usually able to figure it out?

If you said yes to these questions, you’re probably doing well with your logical-mathematical intelligence.

4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence is how well people can move through space. If you have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, you have excellent control of your body and superb body awareness, meaning you know what your body is doing at any given time. People with this intelligence might excel at sports and dance and have good hand-eye coordination.

Questions: Do you enjoy dance or sports? Do you have good body awareness, meaning are you able to move your body in the way your brain wants? Do you have good hand-eye coordination? Are you good at balancing and moving through space?

You’re probably scoring high in your bodily-kinesthetic intelligence if you’ve said yes to these questions.

5. Musical Intelligence

Can you clap to the beat and sing in tune? You might have a decent musical intelligence. People with above-average musical intelligence can recognize tones and hear patterns in songs. Obviously, they would be drawn to music—both listening and creating.

Advertising

Questions: Can you find the rhythm when a song is playing? Are you able to match the pitch of a musical note? Do you enjoy listening to or playing music? Would your friends describe you as musical?

People who say yes to these questions tend to have high musical intelligence.

6. Interpersonal Intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence is, not surprisingly, about interpersonal or social skills. If someone is empathetic and good at understanding other people’s intentions and emotions, they probably have high interpersonal intelligence.

People with this intelligence excel at group work and keeping the peace in organizations. They’re excellent communicators and sensitive to other people’s needs. They are also able to see other people’s perspectives.

Questions: Are you the peacemaker of your group? Would you describe yourself as empathetic? Are you able to figure out what people’s body language means? Do you tend to know what people are thinking or feeling without having to ask? Are you good with other people’s emotions?

If you said yes to these questions, you probably have high interpersonal intelligence.

7. Intrapersonal Intelligence

This is self-awareness. Intrapersonal intelligence is all about how well someone is at reflecting on and being aware of their own mental and emotional state at any given time. These are the philosophers and the daydreamers.

Questions: Do you spend time daydreaming? Would people describe you as reflective? Do you know what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it? Have people described you as being self-aware?

If you said yes to these questions, you probably have high intrapersonal intelligence.

8. Naturalistic Intelligence

After publishing Frames of Mind, Gardner discussed other types of intelligence that fit into his theory of multiple intelligences. Other scholars have added others, but Gardner only agreed to this and the next type.

Advertising

People with high naturalistic intelligence are nature lovers. They are sensitive to slight changes in their environment and gravitate to exploring nature and examining flora and fauna.

Questions: Do enjoy spending time in nature? Do you have an interest in wild plants and animals? Do you notice subtle changes in the environment? Does being in nature make you feel better?

People who answer yes to these questions tend to have high naturalistic intelligence.

9. Pedagogical Intelligence

These are the effortless teachers. People who can instruct, facilitate, and convey information to others have excellent pedagogical intelligence. It’s one thing to understand a topic, but it’s a very different skillset to be able to help other people understand that same topic.

Questions: Do you enjoy teaching people? Are you good at conveying information to others?

Good teachers probably have high pedagogical intelligence.

Criticism of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Some have criticized the theory of multiple intelligences as nothing more than a list of skills and abilities.[1] Perhaps, “talents” would have been a better way for Gardner to describe his list than “types of intelligence” because it describes what people are drawn to and excel in easily.

This talent in no way dictates what people should do for a living. Instead, thinking you are strong in one intelligence may limit the effort you put into other areas.

Carol Dweck’s growth mindset theory in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, states that when we look at skills and abilities as changeable through hard work and practice, we’re able to change those abilities. This is called a growth mindset.

However, when we think that our skills and abilities are innate, it is less likely that we can improve. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences runs the risk of tricking us into thinking our skills and abilities are in-born and that effort and dedication won’t have much of an impact, which is untrue.

Advertising

The theory of multiple intelligences should be approached more like Neil Fleming’s theory of learning styles. Fleming proposed that people have different styles of learning or ways that they are better able to learn: reading/writing, kinesthetic, aural, and visual.

The problem with the theory of learning styles, and with types of intelligence, is that there’s not much empirical evidence to show that your learning style or type of intelligence impacts how you learn. In short, just because I’m drawn to nature and good at building campfires, it doesn’t mean that’s how I learn best.

Think talent more than intelligence, and I think you’ll be better able to appreciate Gardner’s theory for what it is.

Maybe No One is Special?

Let’s go back to that idea that everyone is special, something I think Gardner was advocating way back in the ‘80s. Sure, one way to look at it is that we all have skills, abilities, and strengths that set us apart from other people.

This can be a great thing to explore when you’re trying to find your place in the world or choose your career. However, too much navel-gazing and selfish thinking can be destructive, which brings me to my second interpretation of the “everyone is special” movement.

What if no one is special?

Hear me out. If we stop thinking so much about how we’re special, we can spend more time being curious about other people, places, and things.

In my book, Play Your Way Sane: 120 Improv-Inspired Exercises to Help You Calm Down, Stop Spiraling, and Embrace Uncertainty, I have a whole chapter about the advantages of not thinking that your special. It’s called “Your mom was wrong, you aren’t special,” and it’s filled with exercises and games that help people look for what’s special in other people, instead of in themselves. This shift in focus, from internal to external, can make you less anxious and more connected to other people.

Final Thoughts

So, when you’re done thinking about which types of intelligence you’re better at, take more time to think about what other people are good at. Because when we use theories like multiple intelligences and learning styles to help other people look good, it makes all of us, and society in general, look a whole lot better.

Featured photo credit: Siora Photography via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Clay Drinko

Clay Drinko is an educator and the author of PLAY YOUR WAY SANE (January 2021 Simon & Schuster)

What Are Creative Problem Solving Skills (And How To Improve Yours) 9 Types of Intelligence (And How to Know Your Type) 12 Ways for Slow Learners to Speed Up Learning aural-learner 7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner How to Avoid Binary Thinking and Think More Clearly

Trending in Brain

1 What Are Creative Problem Solving Skills (And How To Improve Yours) 2 How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways 3 9 Types of Intelligence (And How to Know Your Type) 4 25 Memory Exercises That Actually Help You Remember More 5 What Is Social Intelligence (And How to Increase Yours)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on October 5, 2020

What Are Creative Problem Solving Skills (And How To Improve Yours)

What Are Creative Problem Solving Skills (And How To Improve Yours)

I think we’re all familiar with that feeling of needing to solve a problem, trying way too hard, getting frustrated, and then throwing our hands up in defeat. For example, when my editor assigned me this topic, the structure and concept of the piece weren’t instantly clear to me. I had to problem-solve to figure out how to even begin. But problem-solving isn’t quite so linear. It’s not just a matter of brute force. You can’t just muscle your way through. This is where creative problem solving comes in.

Creative problem solving is about using what we know about how the brain works to come up with outside-the-box solutions to creative problems. Sure, we can do things the same way we’ve always done them. Or we can try creative problem solving, which means we spend time ideating (a.k.a. brainstorming), collaborating, ruminating, and refining to land on better and more novel solutions than we could have if we tried to force or rush a solution.

Stages of Creative Problem Solving

There’s no right or wrong way to try creative problem solving, but there are some stages that can help you integrate it into your creative process. Here are the 4 stages of creative problem solving

1. Ideating/Brainstorming

If we’re using creative problem solving, we’re not just going with the first idea that pops into our heads. Brainstorming is crucial to come up with more novel solutions.

One of the most important things to keep in mind during brainstorming is that this is not the time to evaluate or judge ideas. The goal of ideating is to come up with as many ideas as possible.

There’s an improvisation rule called “Yes, And” or the rule of agreement that can help you get the most out of your brainstorming sessions.[1] The idea is simple. If you’re brainstorming in a group and someone tells you an idea, you need to go along with that idea. That’s the “Yes” part of “Yes, And.” Then, you can take it a step further by trying to add to that person’s idea.

Advertising

Let’s say you and your team are trying to figure out how to rebrand your shoe company. Your colleague says you could use a mascot. If you’re using improv’s “Yes, And” rule, you might agree and say that the mascot could be a shoe or a sock or a lonely sock looking for a shoe.

During the ideation stage, no one should be worried about which ideas are good and which are bad. Everyone is trying to come up with as many ideas as possible, and everyone should be trying to make the most of everyone else’s ideas.

“Yes, And” can also work if you’re creative problem solving alone. Instead of discarding ideas, you should be saying yes to your ideas, writing them all down, and trying to make all of them as workable as possible. But before you get too far in your creative process, it’s important to run your ideas by someone else.

2. Collaboration

I know sometimes you don’t want to share your ideas with other people. Maybe you’re self-conscious or you just don’t think that your idea is ready for prime time. However, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and let other people join your creative process if you want to reach the best possible creative solution.

When we’re working in a team, it’s important to not judge each other’s ideas until we’re safely in the final stage of the creative problem-solving process. That means no critiques, no evaluations, and no snarky comments. Not yet, at least.

The reason to hold off on evaluating ideas at this stage is that some people tend to shut down if their ideas are judged too early. There’s a concept called creative suppression that occurs when people stop a creative pursuit temporarily due to feeling judged, shamed, or embarrassed.[2] Even worse, creative mortification is when judgment, shame, or embarrassment makes you quit your creative pursuit altogether.

Advertising

When you’re collaborating with others while creative problem solving, you don’t want to shut anyone down. The more people who are actively engaged in the creative process the better.

In improv, there’s something called “group mind.” The basic idea is that a group can come up with a better solution than any single individual. It makes sense since each person in the group enters the creative process with their own strengths, knowledge, background, experience, and ideas. That means that when the group is working harmoniously, the best contributions of each individual will be reflected in the team’s solution, making that solution far better than what any individual could have come up on their own.

So, find someone you trust and lay the ground rules for your collaboration. Tell each other that you won’t be judging each other’s work just yet to bring out the best and make it as creative and effective as possible.

3. Pause

It can seem counterintuitive to pause during the creative process. But to tap into the creative unconscious parts of your brain, you need to stop forcing it and let your mind wander.

The part of your brain that you’re using to understand this article right now is not necessarily the part that’s going to come up with the most novel solution to your problem. To start using your creative unconscious brain, you need to take a break.

Have you ever had that experience of struggling with a problem and then effortlessly figuring it out while you were showering or walking the dog? That’s your unconscious brain doing the heavy lifting.

Advertising

This part of the brain can’t be forced into creative problem solving, so stop consciously obsessing about your problem for a while. Take a walk. Go for a drive. Let your mind wander. Dream. This gives your unconscious mind a chance to sort information and come up with some truly novel solutions.

The bonus to letting your unconscious take over is that it’s effortless. Conscious thought requires you to burn lots of energy, while unconscious doesn’t. So, stop trying so hard and let ideas come to you.

4. Refine

At some point, you’re going to have to start evaluating, eliminating, and refining your ideas to get to the best solution. But if you’ve brainstormed, collaborated, and ruminated enough, you should have plenty of material to work with.

An Example of Creative Problem Solving

I think it’s helpful to walk through an example of creative problem-solving in action. Let’s go back to the example of me writing this article.

First, I was presented with the problem, so I started brainstorming and “Yes, And”-ing myself. I thought about everything I already know about creative problem solving and did some preliminary research, but I still didn’t have a structure or theme to tie my ideas together.

Once the problem was marinating in my mind, I started talking to people. I talked to an old friend about my initial ideas about the article, but I still didn’t have any words on the page just yet.

Advertising

Then, one morning, the article seemed to come fully formed while I was showering. I could see which examples would work best and how to structure the article. So, I sat down to write and refine the ideas. During the refining stage, I swung back to the collaboration stage when my editor further refined and improved my ideas.

It’s important to remember that these four stages of creative problem solving aren’t linear. They’re circular. After I refine an idea, I can go back to brainstorming, collaborating, and pausing as needed to develop and improve that idea.

Bottom Line

Creative problem solving is, first and foremost, creative. You have to give yourself time and space to be able to reflect and ruminate. It’s also important to collaborate as necessary to improve your ideas with the help of other people.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t force creative problem-solving. Forcing it only leads to frustration and failure, so give yourself some time and a team you trust to come up with the best possible solution to your problem.

More About Creative Problem Solving

Featured photo credit: Per Lööv via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next