Multiple Intelligence : The Theory

Howard Gardner is a psychologist and professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, as well as Co – Director of Harvard Project Zero. Based on his study of many people from many different walks of life in everyday circumstances and professions, Gardener developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences. He performed interviews with and brain research on hundreds of people, including stroke victims, prodigies, autistic individuals etc. He defined 7 intelligences in his book FRAMES OF MIND (1983). He added the last two in INTELLIGENCE REFRAMED (1999). Gardner believes that all human beings have multiple intelligences in varying amounts. These Multiple Intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened or ignored and weakened. These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together. These intelligences may define the human species. Education can be improved by addressing the multiple intelligences of learners. He believes each individual has 9 intelligences:

Verbal – Linguistic Intelligence: The capacity to use words effectively, whether orally (e.g., as a storyteller, orator, or politician) or in writing (e.g., as a poet, playwright, editor, or journalist). This intelligence includes the ability to manipulate the syntax or structure of language, the phonology or sounds of language, the semantics or meanings of language, and the pragmatic dimensions or practical uses of language. Some of these uses include rhetoric (using language to convince others to take a specific course of action), mnemonics (using language to remember information), explanation (using language to inform), and metalanguage (using language to talk about itself).

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: The capacity to use numbers effectively (e.g., as a mathematician, tax accountant, or statistician) and to reason well (e.g., as a scientist, computer programmer, or logician). This intelligence includes sensitivity to logical patterns and relationships, statements and propositions (if-then, cause-effect), functions, and other related abstractions. The kinds of processes used in the service of logical-mathematical intelligence include categorization, classification, inference, generalization, calculation, and hypothesis testing.

Visual Spatial Intelligence: The ability to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately (e.g., as a hunter, scout, or guide) and to perform transformations upon those perceptions (e.g., as an interior decorator, architect, artist, or inventor). This intelligence involves sensitivity to color, line, shape, form, space, and the relationships that exist between these elements. It includes the capacity to visualize, to graphically represent visual or spatial ideas, and to orient oneself appropriately in a spatial matrix.

Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence: Expertise in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings (e.g., as an actor, a mime, an athlete, or a dancer) and facility in using one’s hands to produce or transform things (e.g., as a craftsperson, sculptor, mechanic, or surgeon). This intelligence includes specific physical skills such as coordination, balance, dexterity, strength, flexibility, and speed, as well as tactile capacities.

Musical Intelligence: The capacity to perceive (e.g., as a music aficionado), discriminate (e.g., as a music critic), transform (e.g., as a composer), and express (e.g., as a performer) musical forms. This intelligence includes sensitivity to the rhythm, pitch or melody, and timbre or tone color of a musical piece. One can have a figural or “top-down” understanding of music (global, intuitive), a formal or “bottom-up” understanding (analytic, technical), or both.
Interpersonal Intelligence : The ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people. This can include sensitivity to facial expressions, voice, and gestures; the capacity for discriminating among many different kinds of interpersonal cues; and the ability to respond effectively to those cues in some pragmatic way (e.g., to influence a group of people to follow a certain line of action).

Intrapersonal Intelligence: Self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge. This intelligence includes having an accurate picture of oneself (one’s strengths and limitations); awareness of inner moods, intentions, motivations, temperaments, and desires; and the capacity for self-discipline, self-understanding, and self-esteem.
Naturalist Intelligence : Expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species—the flora and fauna—of an individual’s environment. This also includes sensitivity to other natural phenomena (e.g., cloud formations, mountains, etc.) and, in the case of those growing up in an urban environment, the capacity to discriminate among inanimate objects such as cars, sneakers, and CD covers.

Existential Intelligence: Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as meaning of life, Why do we die? And how did we get here?

HOW DOES THIS THEORY DIFFER FROM THE TRADITIONAL DEFINITION OF INTELLIGENCE?