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The term ‘intelligence’ often brings the image of a stereotypical book smart genius to mind, capable of reciting random facts and completing complicated math problems in their mind. While these people certainly do exist in the world, there are actually 8 different types of intelligence!

A concept that fascinates psychologists and educators and calls our current education system into question – the theory of multiple intelligences states that one may find that they are naturally gifted in one area of life, only to find others more difficult. This, in turn, means that ‘intelligence’ can present itself in a number of different ways. While one person may excel mathematically, another may have a natural gift in the area of language, able to speak and write in a way that others may aspire to.

Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University first introduced this idea in 1983, changing the way that we look at intelligence and human potential. This knowledge, he advised, should influence the focus in our school systems, calling on teachers to readjust the way that they are teaching so as to provide an opportunity for children of all types of intelligence to excel. For example, a lesson taught through music and one that relies upon role play will each speak to different children in the classroom. The challenge lies in finding a balance that would satisfy all 8 types of intelligence.

Understanding which of these come naturally to you and which you have to work the hardest to achieve is the first step in personal growth. This will reveal which areas of your life you need to focus your time and effort on in order to improve, using your strengths to build upon your weaknesses. This can be achieved through personal reflection, looking back on your life and trusting your own experiences to reveal the truth, or you can take a test designed to reveal how you rate compared to your peers.

The 8 types of intelligence introduced by Dr. Gardner are:

#1 – Spatial

People who are spatially intelligent are able to manipulate and arrange objects around them with skill and ease. They are the individuals that find assembling furniture easy, and likely enjoy activities like jigsaw puzzles or building models.

#2 – Linguistic

Those who score high in linguistic intelligence are skilled in their ability to express themselves both verbally as well as in writing. This refers to a natural grasp of the language, whatever that language may be.

#3 – Interpersonal

Also known as ‘people skills,’ those who demonstrate high interpersonal intelligence are able to connect with and understand others easily. This refers to the non-verbal forms of communication such as body language and facial expressions, as well as understanding the implied meaning in a person’s words.

#4 – Logical/Mathematical

One of the types of intelligence that often excel in our current education system, these are the individuals who complete mathematical problems with ease. They are also highly skilled in problem-solving, able to assess and reason their way through any problem.

#5 – Naturalist

Understanding and connection with other people isn’t the only form of intelligence that has a focus outside of ourselves. Naturalist intelligence refers to an understanding of the natural environment including identifying plants and animals, as well as acknowledging the communication that other animals have with others as well as how they react to us.

#6 – Bodily/Kinesthetic

These individuals are naturally gifted in physical skills such as balance and coordination. This is a type of intelligence that we admire in today’s society, with our love for sports and professional athletes, although most of us fail to realize this is actually a type of intelligence.

#7 – Intrapersonal/Emotional

People who are emotionally intelligent are in touch with their own thoughts and feelings. They can recognize their emotions and express them in a healthy way, while effectively managing negative feelings. They truly ‘understand’ themselves.

#8 – Musical

Often overlooked when considering the various types of intelligence, the ability to create, perform and understand music is a skill in and of itself. This includes musical composers, those who play instruments (including singers), as well as those who are able to analyze and understand music on an intellectual level.

Image via The Open Mind