Multiple Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences

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The Multiple Intelligence Theory was first developed by Howard Gardner in his classic work Frames of Mind (1983). Howard Gardner viewed intelligence as a potential to solve problems or produce goods that are valued in a given culture. In his first model, Gardner identified seven types of intelligences (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial-visual, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal). Other possible kinds of intelligence to be included in this list are: a naturalist, a spiritual/existential and a moral one. While the naturalist intelligence would most deserve to be added to the list, the two latter seem too complex to be considered as a specific kind of intelligence. It is however worth pointing out that people’s skills are all a blend of the above mentioned intelligence types, their abilities and learning attitudes being based on different styles and preferences.

Gardner originally conceived his ideas on multiple intelligences as a contribution to psychology, but this theory was soon incorporated in fields such as education and teaching as well. Schools have encouraged and valued the first two types of intelligences (linguistic and logical-mathematical), while Gardner's theory argues that teachers should develop a broader vision of education. In particular, they should use different methodologies, exercises and activities, letting students find their own learning style. Despite the fact that a well-designed set of tests to identify and measure the different types of intelligence is not available yet, the multiple intelligences theory still holds its utility in psychology and education. It has namely helped psychologists, educators and teachers to assume a critical attitude towards their own work, questioning the theories and practices concerning skills, curricula, and evaluation.[1]

See also: Learning Styles, VAK Model, Dunn & Dunn Model

Below you will find a more detailed description of Gardner's seven intelligences, as well as sample activities to develop them
Intelligence type 1. Linguistic 2. Logical-Mathematical 3. Musical 4. Bodily-Kinesthetic 5. Spatial-Visual 6. Interpersonal 7. Intrapersonal
Description written and spoken language; memorizing words, interpretation and explanation of concepts logical and critical thinking, scientific reasoning; problem analyses, mathematical calculations, cause-effect relationship sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre; understanding of sound-feeling relationships body movement control and coordination, manual skills, physical ability and balance visual and spatial perception; visual imagination, interpretation and expression sensitivity to others' moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations; ability to cooperate with others self-awareness, ability to understand one’s own feelings and to anticipate one’s reactions
Typical roles writers, lawyers, journalists, trainers, copy-writers, teachers, editors, translators, TV and radio presenters scientists, engineers, accountants, researchers, analysts, traders, negotiators, deal-makers, directors instrumentalists, singers, DJ's, music producers, acoustic engineers, voice coaches dancers, actors, athletes, soldiers, fire-fighters; ergonomists, osteopaths, crafts-people, surgeons artists, designers, architects, photographers, sculptors, engineers, cosmetics and beauty consultants therapists, HR professionals, politicians, social workers, teachers, doctors, advertising professionals poets, psychologists, counselors, philosophers
Related tasks, activities or tests speak on a subject; discuss and debate about a topic; write a text; tell stories; learn foreign languages perform mental arithmetic calculations; recognize and understand abstract patterns play music instruments; sing a song; listen to music juggle; play sports; dance; create a mime; perform manual works interpret a painting; design a room layout; create a corporate logo; pack a suitcase empathize with others; interpret others’ feelings; giving advice take decisions concerning one's own aims and personal development; understand one’s own strengths and weaknesses[2]

Link icon.png Web Resources
Below you have an additional resource for free online tests to assess Multiple Intelligences. It is nevertheless worth pointing out that it would be misleading to talk about tools to “measure” multiple intelligences.
Link Content / Multiple Intelligences Tests This resource provides access to some Excel and pdf files proving clues to self-calculate the different intelligence types. [3]


  1. Wikipedia (09 June 2012); (09 June 2012); (09 June 2012)
  2. (09 June 2012); Wikipedia (09 June 2012)
  3. (09 June 2012); Wikipedia (09 June 2012)