Multiple Intelligences

The term 'Multiple Intelligence' was first coined in 1983 by Dr. Harvard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist and the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. He is the Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero, and since 1995, he has been the co-director of the Good Project. His theory of multiple intelligences, is outlined in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983).

The Theory Of Multiple Intelligences as proposed by Howard Gardner as a model of intelligence that differentiates intelligence into various specific (primarily sensory) modalities, rather than seeing it as dominated by a single general ability.

Gardner argues that there is a wide range of cognitive abilities, and that there are only very weak correlations between these. For example, the theory predicts that a child who learns to multiply easily is not necessarily generally more intelligent than a child who has more difficulty on this task. To understand this we have the following example. Suppose a child takes more time to master simple multiplication, the reason for this could be

  • The child may best learn to multiply through a different approach or
  • The child may excel in a field outside of mathematics or
  • The child may even be looking at and understanding the multiplication process at a fundamentally deeper level, or perhaps as an entirely different process.

Such a fundamentally deeper understanding can result in what looks like slowness and can hide a mathematical intelligence potentially higher than that of a child who quickly memorizes the multiplication table despite a less detailed understanding of the process of multiplication.

Traditional intelligence tests and psychometrics have generally found high correlations between different tasks and aspects of intelligence, rather than the low correlations which Gardner's theory predicts. Nevertheless many educationists support the practical value of the approaches suggested by the theory.

The theory of Multiple Intelligences proposes that people are not born with all of the intelligence they will ever have. It says that intelligence can be learned throughout life. Also, it claims that everyone is intelligent in at least eight different ways and can develop each aspect of intelligence to an average level of competency.


Intrapersonal Intelligence

These persons are typically introverts who prefer to work alone. They have a very high sense of self-awareness of their own emotions, goals and motivations. They are in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can work best if given the freedom to do the task without frequent interruptions and suggestions. They are always aiming at a high level of perfectionism in everything that they do. They can also be very egoistic and selfish.

Interpersonal Intelligence

This intelligence would make the persons extroverts with high empathy. They are sensitive to others' moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations, and have the ability to cooperate and get work done in the team. They may love to lead but can also work well as a part of a team. They are energised by being in the company of people and friends. They love talking, discussions and debates.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

This intelligence is related to logic, abstractions, reasoning, and numbers. This intelligence also implies a natural ability to excel in mathematics, logical and numerical activities as well as reasoning capabilities, scientific thinking and investigation, and the ability to perform complex calculations.

Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence

With this intelligence the person would usually enjoy acting or performing, and love to use their body and fingers. They may be fond of sports, travelling and creating and making things with their hands. They learn best by physically doing something, rather than reading or hearing about it. They use their sense of touch to register things in their muscle memory. With their fine motor skills they can excel in dancing, athletics, surgery, craft and even play string instruments.

Visual Spatial Intelligence

This intelligence would imply that the individuals are typically very good at visualizing and mentally manipulating objects. Those with strong spatial intelligence are often proficient at solving puzzles. They have a strong visual memory and are often artistically inclined. Those with visual-spatial intelligence are also generally have a very good sense of direction and may also have very good hand-eye coordination.

Linguistic Intelligence

Individuals with this intelligence will display a flair with words and languages. They are good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes. They love discussions and debates. They are good at explaining, teaching and oration or using words to persuade or negotiate. They will learn foreign languages very easily as they have high verbal memory and recall, and an ability to understand and manipulate syntax and structure.

Musical Intelligence

This intelligence implies greater sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. Such persons normally have good pitch and are able 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 best via lecture. In addition, they will often use songs or rhythms to learn and memorize information, and may work best with music playing in the background.

Naturalistic Intelligence

This intelligence gives the person a greater sensitivity to nature and their place within it. They have the ability to nurture and grow things, as well as an ease in caring for and interacting with animals. They are easily affected by the changes in weather and their natural surroundings. Such persons have the ability to recognize and distinguish between classification of different species. They love collecting things from nature and analyzing them. They also have a good sense of smell, sight, touch and sound.