Theories Cognitive Psychology Print Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences By Kendra Cherry Updated July 25, 2019 Approved by Wellness Board expert Amy Morin, LCSW More in Theories Cognitive Psychology Behavioral Psychology Developmental Psychology Personality Psychology Social Psychology Biological Psychology Psychosocial Psychology When you hear the word intelligence, the concept of IQ testing may immediately come to mind. Intelligence is often defined as our intellectual potential; something we are born with, something that can be measured, and a capacity that is difficult to change. In recent years, however, other views of intelligence have emerged. One such conception is the theory of multiple intelligences proposed by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner. Illustration by JR Bee, Verywell Theory of Multiple Intelligences This theory suggests that traditional psychometric views of intelligence are too limited. Gardner first outlined his theory in his 1983 book "Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences," where he suggested that all people have different kinds of "intelligences." Gardner proposed that there are eight intelligences, and has suggested the possible addition of a ninth known as "existentialist intelligence." In order to capture the full range of abilities and talents that people possess, Gardner theorizes that people do not have just an intellectual capacity, but have many kinds of intelligence, including musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual, and linguistic intelligences. While a person might be particularly strong in a specific area, such as musical intelligence, he or she most likely possesses a range of abilities. For example, an individual might be strong in verbal, musical, and naturalistic intelligence. Criticism Gardner’s theory has come under criticism from both psychologists and educators. These critics argue that Gardner’s definition of intelligence is too broad and that his eight different "intelligences" simply represent talents, personality traits, and abilities. Gardner’s theory also suffers from a lack of supporting empirical research. Despite this, the theory of multiple intelligences enjoys considerable popularity with educators. Many teachers utilize multiple intelligences in their teaching philosophies and work to integrate Gardner’s theory into the classroom. Learning more about the multiple intelligences can help you better understand your own strengths. Continue reading to learn more about the major characteristics of each type of intelligence, and if you still aren't sure which type describes you best, this quiz can help you figure it out. 1 Visual-Spatial Intelligence Strengths: Visual and spatial judgment People who are strong in visual-spatial intelligence are good at visualizing things. These individuals are often good with directions as well as maps, charts, videos, and pictures. Characteristics Characteristics of visual-spatial intelligence include: Enjoys reading and writingGood at putting puzzles togetherGood at interpreting pictures, graphs, and chartsEnjoys drawing, painting, and the visual artsRecognizes patterns easily Potential Career Choices If you're strong in visual-spatial intelligence, good career choices for you are: ArchitectArtistEngineer 2 Linguistic-Verbal Intelligence Strengths: Words, language, and writing People who are strong in linguistic-verbal intelligence are able to use words well, both when writing and speaking. These individuals are typically very good at writing stories, memorizing information, and reading. Characteristics Characteristics of linguistic-verbal intelligence include: Good at remembering written and spoken informationEnjoys reading and writingGood at debating or giving persuasive speechesAble to explain things wellOften uses humor when telling stories Potential Career Choices If you're strong in linguistic-verbal intelligence, good career choices for you are: Writer/journalistLawyerTeacher 3 Logical-Mathematical Intelligence Strengths: Analyzing problems and mathematical operations People who are strong in logical-mathematical intelligence are good at reasoning, recognizing patterns, and logically analyzing problems. These individuals tend to think conceptually about numbers, relationships, and patterns. Characteristics Characteristics of logical-mathematical intelligence include: Excellent problem-solving skillsEnjoys thinking about abstract ideasLikes conducting scientific experimentsGood at solving complex computations Potential Career Choices If you're strong in logical-mathematical intelligence, good career choices for you are: ScientistMathematicianComputer programmerEngineerAccountant 4 Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence Strengths: Physical movement, motor control Those who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are said to be good at body movement, performing actions, and physical control. People who are strong in this area tend to have excellent hand-eye coordination and dexterity. Characteristics Characteristics of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence include: Good at dancing and sportsEnjoys creating things with his or her handsExcellent physical coordinationTends to remember by doing, rather than hearing or seeing Potential Career Choices If you're strong in bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, good career choices for you are: DancerBuilderSculptorActor 5 Musical Intelligence Strengths: Rhythm and music People who have strong musical intelligence are good at thinking in patterns, rhythms, and sounds. They have a strong appreciation for music and are often good at musical composition and performance. Characteristics Characteristics of musical intelligence include: Enjoys singing and playing musical instrumentsRecognizes musical patterns and tones easilyGood at remembering songs and melodiesRich understanding of musical structure, rhythm, and notes Potential Career Choices If you're strong in musical intelligence, good career choices for you are: MusicianComposerSingerMusic teacherConductor 6 Interpersonal Intelligence Strengths: Understanding and relating to other people Those who have strong interpersonal intelligence are good at understanding and interacting with other people. These individuals are skilled at assessing the emotions, motivations, desires, and intentions of those around them. Characteristics Characteristics of interpersonal intelligence include: Good at communicating verballySkilled at nonverbal communicationSees situations from different perspectivesCreates positive relationships with othersGood at resolving conflict in groups Potential Career Choices If you're strong in interpersonal intelligence, good career choices for you are: PsychologistPhilosopherCounselorSalespersonPolitician 7 Intrapersonal Intelligence Strengths: Introspection and self-reflection Individuals who are strong in intrapersonal intelligence are good at being aware of their own emotional states, feelings, and motivations. They tend to enjoy self-reflection and analysis, including daydreaming, exploring relationships with others, and assessing their personal strengths. Characteristics Characteristics of intrapersonal intelligence include: Good at analyzing his or her strengths and weaknessesEnjoys analyzing theories and ideasExcellent self-awarenessClearly understands the basis for his or her own motivations and feelings Potential Career Choices If you're strong in intrapersonal intelligence, good career choices for you are: PhilosopherWriterTheoristScientist 8 Naturalistic Intelligence Strengths: Finding patterns and relationships to nature Naturalistic is the most recent addition to Gardner’s theory and has been met with more resistance than his original seven intelligences. According to Gardner, individuals who are high in this type of intelligence are more in tune with nature and are often interested in nurturing, exploring the environment, and learning about other species. These individuals are said to be highly aware of even subtle changes to their environments. Characteristics Characteristics of naturalistic intelligence include: Interested in subjects such as botany, biology, and zoologyGood at categorizing and cataloging information easilyMay enjoy camping, gardening, hiking, and exploring the outdoorsDoesn’t enjoy learning unfamiliar topics that have no connection to nature Potential Career Choices If you're strong in naturalistic intelligence, good career choices for you are: BiologistConservationistGardenerFarmer Theories of Intelligence in Psychology Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Have you ever wondered what your personality type means? Or maybe you wanted to know whether you’re left-brained or right-brained? Sign up to get these answers, and more, delivered straight to your inbox. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources Bakić-mirić N. Implementation of multiple intelligences theory in the English language course syllabus at the University of Nis Medical School. Srp Arh Celok Lek. 2010;138(1-2):105-10. Cerruti C. Building a functional multiple intelligences theory to advance educational neuroscience. Front Psychol. 2013;4:950. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00950 Levine SC, Ratliff KR, Huttenlocher J, Cannon J. Early puzzle play: a predictor of preschoolers' spatial transformation skill. Dev Psychol. 2012;48(2):530-42. doi:10.1037/a0025913 Singh Y, Makharia A, Sharma A, Agrawal K, Varma G, Yadav T. A study on different forms of intelligence in Indian school-going children. Ind Psychiatry J. 2017;26(1):71-76. doi:10.4103/ipj.ipj_61_16 Sternberg RJ. Intelligence. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2012;14(1):19-27. Additional Reading Gardner H. On the Three Faces of Intelligence. Daedalus.Winter 2002;131(1):139-142. Gardner H. A Multiplicity of Intelligences. Published 2004. Gardner H. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books; 1983. Gardner H. Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century. New York: Basic Books; 1999.