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The Nine Types of Intelligence That Should Be Considered in All School Curricular

Intelligence is often defined by performance in an examination or grades at school, but at Nord Anglia Education we understand it goes beyond that. Although having useful knowledge and skills does contribute to a person’s intelligence, psychologist Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests that there’s more to being intelligent than simply being good at maths and English or learning a second language. At our schools, we deliver a curriculum where children can develop these nine types of intelligence and learn their strengths and weaknesses, helping them understand their place in the world and decide which career they would like to pursue. In this blog, we will discuss the nine types of intelligence listed in Gardner’s research in more detail, and list the characteristics of each to help people understand which of the nine types of intelligence they possess.

  • Define Intelligence

1. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Perhaps the most obvious of the nine kinds of intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence refers to someone’s ability to solve mathematical problems, spot trends and patterns, and understand relationships. If someone possesses logical-mathematical intelligence it means that order and sequencing feature greatly in their thinking process and they can think conceptually and abstractly.

You have high logical-mathematical intelligence if:

  • You’re good with numbers and confident taking on tasks that involve quantifying things, such as math and arithmetic questions
  • You enjoy performing experiments and conducting your own investigations
  • You enjoy playing logic and strategy games
  • You enjoy solving puzzles and unraveling mysteries
  • Your curiosity drives you to ask cosmic or deep questions

Great careers for people with logical-mathematical intelligence include mathematician, economist, auditor, accountant, scientist, tactician, computer analyst and technician.

2. Linguistic Intelligence

Linguistic intelligence gauges someone’s ability to use words effectively. This doesn’t necessarily mean learning another language, someone who exclusively uses one language proficiently can still have linguistic intelligence. Being able to use the right words and express what you mean is a unique skill that can be utilized in several different scenarios.

You have high linguistic intelligence if:

  • You’re comfortable both speaking and writing, using words to achieve objectives such as persuasion
  • You have a broad vocabulary and understand when and how to use certain words
  • You enjoy reading and writing
  • You enjoy playing word games
  • You have an easy grasp of other languages or dialects, fluency is not required

Great careers for people with linguistic intelligence include public speaker, librarian, politician, radio announcer, TV host, YouTuber, journalist, lawyer, curator, speech pathologist, writer or sales.

3. Interpersonal Intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence or emotional intelligence refers to the link between intelligence and emotions. Someone with interpersonal intelligence is good at sensing other people’s emotions and reading their motives, this can be linked to both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

You have high interpersonal intelligence if:

  • You’re good at identifying distinctions and differences among a group of people
  • You have a wide circle of friends and are comfortable meeting new people
  • You are good at sensing people’s mood
  • You possess the ability to look at things from different perspectives, understanding other people’s point of view

Great careers for people with interpersonal intelligence include human resources, counselor, management, psychologist, public relations, social director, teacher or social worker.

4. Intrapersonal Intelligence

Intrapersonal intelligence refers to self-awareness and people’s ability to understand themselves. Do you understand what you are feeling and why you are feeling it? Intrapersonal intelligence also involves appreciating and respecting the human condition, in general, treating others the way you would like to be treated yourself.

You have high intrapersonal intelligence if:

  • You’re self-motivated and can put yourself first when necessary
  • You’re strong-willed and independent
  • You’re aware of, and take action based on how you’re feeling
  • You enjoy taking time to yourself for self-reflection

Great careers for people with intrapersonal intelligence include psychologist, writer, therapist, counselor, social worker, theologian, entrepreneur or poet.

5. Musical Intelligence

Musical intelligence is the most self-explanatory of the nine types of intelligence, it refers to someone’s ability to sense rhythm and sound and use this to create music.

Juilliard - BISC-South Loop

You have a high level of musical intelligence if:

  • You can break the pitch, rhythm, tone and timbre of sounds easily
  • You recognize, create or reflect on music, and love doing so
  • You are comfortable with music playing in the background while you do other things
  • You are highly sensitive to sounds, hearing what others miss

Great careers for people with musical intelligence include conductor, musician, piano teacher, composer, dance teacher, music therapist or choral director.

6. Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Visual-spatial intelligence refers to people’s ability to view or visualize the world in its three dimensions. When discussing visuals the world in 3D, it involves the following capabilities:

Mental imagery – being able to draw up an image or picture without an external stimulus, drawing from memories or previous experience. In other words, the detail of someone’s imagination.

Spatial reasoning – being able to think about objects in 3D and draw generalizations despite having limited information. Mention a pyramid, and people with visual-spatial intelligence will be able to visualize how that pyramid will look from the front or the top.

Image manipulation – being able to visualize changes to an image before they have been implemented. For example, an artist visuals how their picture will look before they have drawn it.

Artistic skills – being able to create artwork, this also includes graphic skills.

Visual-spatial intelligence and creativity work hand-in-hand, drawing on an active imagination to produce impressive visual work.

You have high visual-spatial intelligence if:

  • You have a high awareness of your surrounding environment
  • You have a good sense of direction
  • You enjoy playing jigsaw puzzles and games based around navigation
  • You daydream a lot
  • You enjoy being creative

Great careers for people with visual-spatial intelligence include architect, geometry teacher, engineer, surveyor, urban planner, graphic artist, interior decorator, photographer, pilot or cartographer.

7. Bodily-visualsigence

Bodily-visualsigence refers to mind and body co-ordination and is very important in athletes. Athletic ability isn’t often referred to as intelligence, but kinesthetic intelligence is measured on someone’s ability to use their physicality to manipulate objects and other elements around them.

You have high bodily-kinestheticigence if:

  • You recognize your capabilities and physical limits
  • You can communicate well using body language, using gestures and actions to convey your message
  • You have no real issue with physical contact
  • You have a good sense of timing when it comes to physical tasks and activities
  • You can handle objects with a high degree of deftness, control and economy of movement
  • You like being creative with your hands

Great careers for people with bodily-recognizeigence include physical therapist, dancer, athlete, coach, fitness instructor, gym owner, actor, mechanic or carpenter.

8. Naturalist Intelligence

Naturalist intelligence refers to the ability to read and understand nature. Having sensitivity to the non-living elements of all living things is considered “nature smart”.

You have high naturalist intelligence if:

  • You love nature and spending time outdoors
  • You connect easily with animals
  • You’re good at raising or taking care of animals and plants

Great careers for people with naturalist intelligence include botanist, oceanographer, camp counselor, scout troop leader, gardener, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist or landscape architect.

9. Existential Intelligence

Existential intelligence refers to deep sensitivity and people’s ability to handle deep questions such as the meaning of existence, it’s one of the most complex of the nine types of intelligence listed in Gardner’s research. People with existential intelligence are not only comfortable talking about these serious questions but also strive to find the answer.

You have high existential intelligence if:

  • You genuinely want to find answers to questions such as “what is the meaning of life?” or “what happens after death?”
  • You demonstrate high sensitivity on matters related to human existence

Great careers for people with existential intelligence include inspirational speaker, writer, clergy, author, philosopher, economist or blogger.