Multiple Intelligences

We often understand intelligence as an individual’s intellectual potential and usually think people are born with all the intelligence they will ever have. As a matter of fact, when we hear or read the word intelligence, the first thing that comes to mind is the concept of IQ. If you would like to know how high your IQ is, we suggest you take one of these IQ Tests.

However, in recent years, other views of intelligence have emerged; the theory of multiple intelligences is one of them. The multiple intelligences concept was developed by the American psychologist Howard Gardner. He first outlined this theory in his 1983 work, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. It challenged our traditional perception that there is only one type of intelligence, sometimes referred to as “g” for general intelligence. Gardner wrote that the conventional notion of intelligence is somewhat limited, and multiple intelligences exist instead. According to Gardner, there are eight main types of intelligence.

Practical Application of The Theory

Just like a teacher should let a left-handed student use their left hand for writing, all pedagogues should teach their tutees according to their predominant intelligences. Of course, to pursue any career, a person has to take on various responsibilities touching on several intelligences. In fact, more than one intelligence is usually required for a person to become successful at a job. That is why it’s important to develop and nurture every type of intelligence we have. However, knowing our primary intelligence can definitely help us choose the right career. So feel free to read the list of Gardner’s intelligences below and discover what your dominant intelligence is. Taking this reliable Holland Code (RIASEC) Career Test might also be helpful to know what job suits you best.

Types of Intelligence According to Howard Gardner

1. Linguistic-Verbal Intelligence

Those who are strong at this type of intelligence are “word smart”, that is, they are able to use words well, both when speaking and writing. These people are usually great at reading, writing, memorizing and analyzing information, and/or learning foreign languages. They typically use language to accomplish specific goals, persuading others to do something with their words. Such individuals also often create products like articles, books, or speeches. Here are some careers a person with linguistic intelligence could pursue: lawyer, speaker/host, translator, teacher, author, journalist, blogger.

2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Individuals whose forte is logical-mathematical intelligence are usually good at discerning numerical patterns, logically analyzing problems, and reasoning. Such people tend to think abstractly and conceptually and investigate everything scientifically. Some careers a person with high logical-mathematical intelligence could dominate are as follows: mathematician, statistician, accountant, engineer, computer programmer or analyst.

3. Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Individuals whose cup of tea is visual-spatial intelligence are “picture smart”, that is, great at visualizing things with their mind's eye. These people are typically good with videos, pictures, maps, and charts. Some of the careers a person with spatial intelligence could pursue are the following: graphic artist, sculptor, architect, interior decorator, pilot.

4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Those having high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are “body smart”, that is, they are good at body movement and physical control. They often use body language and typically have outstanding dexterity, strong gross and fine motor skills, and eye-hand coordination. Such individuals gather information from the surrounding environment, create new things, and/or solve problems through the mind-body union. Here are some suggestions of ideal careers for those who have a strong bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: dancer, athlete, builder, mechanic, carpenter, forest ranger, jeweler, surgeon, physical therapist.

5. Musical Intelligence

Individuals with high-level musical intelligence are great at thinking in rhythms and sounds. Such people remember things by turning them into lyrics. They appreciate music patterns, and most of these individuals are good at musical performance and/or composition. In other words, music is part of their daily life; they communicate and create through sound. Here are some of the best career choices for musically intelligent people: music teacher, piano tuner, singer, DJ, musician, composer, music therapist, choral director, conductor.

6. Interpersonal Intelligence

Those with high levels of interpersonal intelligence are unrivaled at interacting with others, understanding them, and managing relationships with them. Interpersonally intelligent individuals are great at assessing others' motivations, desires, moods, emotions, temperaments, and intentions. Such people can easily adapt to social situations. They enjoy participating in discussions and debates. Here are some great career choices for those who are strong in interpersonal intelligence: psychologist, salesperson, manager, public relations person, politician.

7. Intrapersonal Intelligence

Individuals with high-level intrapersonal intelligence have a full-grown ability to be introspective. In other words, they are great at being aware of their own thoughts, emotional states, feelings, and motivations and using that information to regulate their life. This type of intelligence is not to be confused with interpersonal intelligence, which is the ability to understand the thoughts, moods, and emotions of people around them rather than their own.Those having strong intrapersonal intelligence might be very good at the following jobs: entrepreneur, theologian, philosopher, counselor, theorist, program planner. Note that those with high intrapersonal intelligence are in high demand for almost all types of careers because their ability to understand themselves helps them be good at communication and effectively make decisions, even under pressure and stress.

8. Naturalistic intelligence

Those whose strong suit is naturalistic intelligence, are “nature smart”, that is, in tune with nature. They have the ability to recognize and categorize plants and animals. We can also call an individual with a high-level naturalistic intelligence an “outdoorsy” person. In other words, such people usually like camping and hiking and are typically interested in learning about different species and exploring the environment. Individuals who are strong in naturalistic intelligence could pursue the following careers: biologist, botanist, gardener, farmer, astronomer, wildlife illustrator, meteorologist, geologist.

Additional intelligences

The ninth type of intelligence - existential intelligence was suggested by Gardner in 1999, as an addition to his original theory. The scientist describes this intelligence as a person’s ability to dig into deep questions about human life and existence like “How did we get here?” “Why are we here?” “What is the purpose of life?”, and so on. People with a strong existential intelligence might enjoy one of the following careers: philosopher, theologian, pastor.

Interestingly, another American scientist, professor Nan B. Adams claims that one more intelligence - digital intelligence now exists. It is a meta-intelligence fostered by technology and composed of many other identified intelligences.

Criticisms of Gardner’s Theory

The theory of multiple intelligences is widely accepted today. Educators have embraced Gardner’s concept because of its optimistic view of human potential. However, this theory is not without criticism. Most critics of Gardner’s theory claim that it has little or no scientific evidence, and that these multiple intelligences are extremely difficult to measure and assess. Some of them also say that the theory is a perfect example of pseudoscience. Besides, according to them, it does not provide any new information beyond that previously provided by traditional measures of mental ability, and what Gardner describes are talents or skills rather than “intelligences”.


In spite of its lack of acceptance in the psychological community, the theory has been adopted in the sphere of education. We think Gardner’s theory is of great value because it helps people think about various types of human mental strengths and abilities. Learning about different types of intelligence and discovering the primary ones might help you or your children recognize preferences in life and make the best career choice. However, this theory should not be perceived as the only available instrument to measure human intellect, talents, and skills. For a full picture, it should be combined with other intelligence assessment tools.