The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, Professor of Education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on Intelligence Quotient (IQ) testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are as follows:

Linguistic Intelligence (word smart)

This intelligence has to do with words, spoken or written. People with high linguistic intelligence are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorising words along with dates. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, discussion and debate.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (logic smart)

This intelligence has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning and numbers. It is often assumed that those with this intelligence naturally excel in mathematics, computer programming and other logical or numerical activities. They tend to learn best through analysis and practice.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence (picture smart)

This intelligence has to do with vision and spatial judgment, People with strong visual-spatial intelligence are typically very good at visualising and mentally manipulating objects. They tend to learn best through solving puzzles and visually memorising.

Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence (body smart)

This intelligence has to do with bodily movement. People who have this intelligence usually learn better by getting up and moving around, and are generally good at physical activities such as sports or dance. They tend to learn by actively getting involved and performing and practising.

Musical Intelligence (music smart)

This intelligence has to do with rhythm, music, and hearing. Those who have a high level of musical-rhythmic intelligence display greater sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, absolute pitch and music. They learn best by listening, creating and practising music.

Interpersonal Intelligence (people smart)

This intelligence has to do with interaction with others. People who have a high interpersonal intelligence tend to be extroverts, characterised by their sensitivity to others’ moods and feelings. They learn best by observing and interacting as part of a group.

Intrapersonal Intelligence (self smart)

This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. They are usually highly self-aware and capable of understanding their own emotions, goals and motivations. They often have an affinity for thought-based pursuits such as philosophy. They learn best when allowed to concentrate on the subject by themselves.

Naturalist intelligence (nature smart)

This area has to do with nature, nurturing and relating information to natural surroundings. Those with it are said to have greater sensitivity to nature and their place within it. They learn best by nurturing and growing things as well as recognising and classifying things.

Dr. Gardner says that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live. Unfortunately, many children who have these gifts don’t receive much reinforcement for them in school. The theory of multiple intelligences has grabbed the attention of many educators around the world, and hundreds of schools are currently using its philosophy to redesign the way it educates children.

The theory of multiple intelligences also has strong implications for adult learning and development. Many adults find themselves in jobs that do not make optimal use of their most highly developed intelligences; for example, the highly bodily-kinaesthetic individual who is stuck in a linguistic or logical desk-job when he or she would be much happier in a job where they could move around, such as a recreational leader, a forest ranger, or physical therapist. The theory of multiple intelligences gives adults a whole new way to look at their lives, examining potentials that they left behind in their childhood such as a love for art or drama, but now have the opportunity to develop through courses, hobbies, or other programmes of self-development.


  1.  American Institute for learning and Human Development.
  2.  Liggy Webb. Modern Life Skills.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s