The Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

“I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place”.

By Howard Gardner.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences was devised by the American psychologist Howard Gardner as a counterweight to the paradigm of a single intelligence.

Gardner proposed that human life requires the development of various types of intelligence. Thus, Gardner does not contradict the scientific definition of intelligence, as the “ability to solve problems or develop valuable assets.”

Howard Gardner and his collaborators at the prestigious Harvard University warned that academic intelligence (obtaining qualifications and educational merits, the academic record) is not a decisive factor in knowing a person’s intelligence.

A good example of this idea is observed in people who, despite obtaining excellent academic qualifications, present important problems to relate to other people or to handle other facets of their life. Gardner and his collaborators could affirm that Stephen Hawking does not possess a greater intelligence than Leo Messi, but that each one of them has developed a different type of intelligence.


On the other hand, Howard Gardner points out that there are clear cases in which people have extremely developed cognitive skills, and others very poorly developed: this is the case of the savants. An example of a savant was Kim Peek, who, although he generally had little ability to reason, was able to memorize maps and entire books, in almost every detail.

These exceptional cases made Gardner think that intelligence does not exist, but that there are many independent intelligences.
Multiple intelligences: 8 types of intelligence

Howard Gardner’s research has managed to identify and define up to eight different types of intelligence. We will know more in detail each of the intelligences proposed by the Theory of Multiple Intelligences of Gardner below.

Linguistic intelligence

The ability to master language and be able to communicate with others is transversal to all cultures. From small we learn to use the mother tongue to communicate effectively.
Linguistic intelligence not only refers to the ability for oral communication, but also to other forms of communication such as writing, gestures, etc.

Those who better master this ability to communicate have a superior linguistic intelligence. Professions in which this type of intelligence stands out could be politicians, writers, poets, journalists.

Logical-mathematical intelligence

For decades, logical-mathematical intelligence was considered raw intelligence. It was the main axis of the concept of intelligence, and it was used as a yardstick to detect how intelligent a person was.

As its name suggests, this type of intelligence is linked to the capacity for logical reasoning and the resolution of mathematical problems. The speed to solve this type of problem is the indicator that determines how much logical-mathematical intelligence one has.

The famous intellectual quotient (IQ) test is based on this type of intelligence and, to a lesser extent, on linguistic intelligence. Scientists, economists, academics, engineers and mathematicians often excel in this kind of intelligence.

Spatial intelligence

The ability to observe the world and objects from different perspectives is related to this type of intelligence, in which chess players and visual arts professionals (painters, designers, sculptors, etc.) stand out.

People who excel in this type of intelligence usually have capabilities that allow them to devise mental images, draw and detect details, as well as a personal sense for aesthetics.

In this intelligence we find painters, photographers, designers, publicists, architects, creatives.

Musical intelligence

Music is a universal art. All cultures have some type of music, more or less elaborate, which leads Gardner and his collaborators to understand that there is a latent musical intelligence in all people.

Some areas of the brain perform functions linked to the interpretation and composition of music. Like any other kind of intelligence, it can be trained and perfected.

It goes without saying that the most advantaged in this kind of intelligence are those capable of playing instruments, reading and composing musical pieces with ease.

Body and kinesthetic intelligence

The bodily and motor skills required to handle tools or to express certain emotions represent an essential aspect in the development of all cultures of history.

The ability to use tools is considered kinesthetic body intelligence. On the other hand, there is a follow-up of more intuitive abilities such as the use of body intelligence to express feelings through the body.

Especially brilliant in this type of intelligence are dancers, actors, athletes, and even plastic surgeons and creators, since all of them have to use their physical abilities rationally.

Intrapersonal intelligence

Intrapersonal intelligence refers to that intelligence that empowers us to understand and control the internal environment of oneself in terms of the regulation of emotions and the attentional focus.

People who excel in intrapersonal intelligence are able to access their feelings and emotions and reflect on these elements. According to Gardner, this intelligence also allows you to delve into your introspection and understand the reasons why one is the way one is.

On the other hand, both knowing how to distance oneself from the situation to de-dramatize events with a negative emotional impact and knowing how to identify one’s own thinking biases are very useful tools both to maintain a good level of well-being and to perform better in different aspects of life.

Interpersonal intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence empowers us to be able to notice things from other people beyond what our senses manage to capture. It is an intelligence that allows you to interpret the words or gestures, or the objectives and goals of each speech. Beyond the Introversion-Extraversion continuum, interpersonal intelligence assesses the ability to empathize with other people.

It is a very valuable intelligence for people who work with large groups. His ability to detect and understand the circumstances and problems of others is easier if one possesses (and develops) interpersonal intelligence. Professors, psychologists, therapists, lawyers and pedagogues are profiles that tend to score very high in this type of intelligence described in the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Naturalist intelligence

According to Gardner, naturalistic intelligence allows detecting, differentiating and categorizing aspects related to the environment, such as animal and plant species or phenomena related to climate, geography or natural phenomena.

This kind of intelligence was later added to the original study on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, specifically in the year 1995. Gardner considered it necessary to include this category because it is one of the essential intelligences for the survival of the human being (or any other species) and that has resulted in evolution.

It should be noted that although for Gardner this type of intelligence was developed to facilitate the creative use of the resources that nature provides, currently its use is not only limited to environments where there are no human constructions, but the latter also they could be “explored” in the same way.


Gardner affirms that all people own each of the eight intelligence classes, although each one stands out more in some than in others, none of the eight being more important or valuable than the others. Generally, it is required to dominate a large part of them to face life, regardless of the profession that is exercised. After all, most jobs require the use of most types of intelligence.

The education that is taught in the classrooms is committed to offering content and procedures focused on evaluating the first two types of intelligence: linguistic and logical-mathematical. However, this is totally insufficient in the project to educate the students in full of their potential. The need for a change in the educational paradigm was brought to debate thanks to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner.

On the other hand, Howard Gardner has pointed out that the important thing of his theory is not the 8 intelligences he proposes, but the conceptualization of human cognition as parallel and relatively independent processes from each other. For this reason, he has pointed out several times that possibly multiple intelligences are not those he proposed, but others that he has not taken into account or grouped under the name of a single intelligence.


Comments are closed.