In 1983, psychologist Howard Gardner suggested the existence of different types of intelligence. In his book "Frames of Mind" he postulated that intelligence is not a unitary whole but rather a network of capacities that function in a more or less synchronized way.
With his theory of multiple intelligences he demolished the classical idea of intelligence, proposing that we are all experts in different areas. There are people with a special talent for numbers and others who are excellent communicators.
Therefore, Gardner redefined the concept of intelligence as "biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural context to solve problems or create products that are valuable in a culture". Therefore, the type of intelligence we develop will depend on both genetic factors and our experience.
The different types of intelligence that we can develop
At first, Gardner proposed the existence of 7 types of intelligence, but later included two additional intelligences and over time other constructs were added that broaden our view of intelligence.
1. Logical-mathematical intelligence
Logical-mathematical intelligence refers to the ability to rationally analyze problems, perform mathematical operations and investigate scientific questions. It involves the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses and perform complex logical operations.
These people use abstract and symbolic thinking, develop sequential reasoning skills, and follow inductive and deductive thinking patterns. In fact, they have the ability to develop equations and proofs, perform calculations and solve abstract problems in order to be comfortable in the field of mathematics and physics.
2. Linguistic intelligence
Linguistic intelligence refers to a special sensitivity to spoken and written language. It manifests itself as the ability to learn languages and to use language effectively to achieve certain goals. Writers and great communicators, for example, have this kind of intelligence.
People with linguistic intelligence use language to express and appreciate complex meanings. They have the ability to analyze verbal and non-verbal information with great accuracy, understand words and non-verbal language, and are also able to create products involving oral and written language.
3. Spatial intelligence
Spatial intelligence involves the ability to recognize and manipulate models in a large space, such as that used by navigators and pilots, as well as models in smaller areas, such as sculptors, surgeons, chess players or architects.
This type of intelligence refers to the ability to think in three dimensions. People who possess it have the extraordinary ability to recognize and manipulate detailed, large-scale spatial images. They also tend to have very active imaginations.
4. Body-kinesthetic intelligence
Kinesthetic or body intelligence is the ability to use the whole body or parts of it to solve problems or create products. People with this type of intelligence can become excellent athletes or dancers, for example, but they can also be surgeons, mechanics, physiotherapists or carpenters.
People with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence solve problems through a deep mind-body bond. They achieve great control of automatic and voluntary movements, so that they can use their body in a highly differentiated and competent way to solve different problems.
5. Musical intelligence
Musical intelligence refers to the skills of interpretation, composition and appreciation of musical patterns. People with this type of intelligence have the ability to recognize and create musical tones, rhythms and timbres.
They tend to have an excellent aptitude for learning songs and rhythms, as well as composing music and playing various musical instruments. They develop a special sensitivity to music and can easily detect wrong tones or out of tune instruments.
6. Interpersonal intelligence
Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of others and to use them to relate assertively with others. People with this type of intelligence develop the ability to recognize and understand the psychological background of others.
Interpersonal intelligence therefore implies the development of effective verbal and non-verbal communication. These people notice the differences between them, are sensitive to the moods of others, and have the ability to manage perspectives other than an empathic posture.
7. Intrapersonal intelligence
Intrapersonal intelligence is fundamentally internal because it implies the ability to understand oneself. These people are not only aware of their desires, feelings, moods and expectations, but they use this information to intelligently manage their lives.
Those who possess this type of intelligence also develop self-cognition; that is, they understand how their cognitive processes (thinking, attention and memory) work, which allows them to make better decisions and solve problems more effectively.
8. Naturalistic intelligence
Naturalistic intelligence is the ability to perceive the relationships between species and people, recognizing possible differences or similarities between them. These people are able to identify, discern, observe and classify members of groups or species of flora and fauna with relative ease.
Those with this kind of intelligence not only identify the variety that exists in the natural world, but they also have a special sensitivity to the environment. They have a natural curiosity to investigate the environment and love to be in contact with nature.
9. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence could be considered a conjunction of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences because it implies the ability to recognize and manage one's own and others' emotions. Proposed by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer, it is composed of five essential skills: emotional self-awareness, emotional self-control, self-motivation, empathy and social skills.
Therefore, emotionally intelligent people are aware of their moods and the emotions and feelings of those around them, being able to manage them assertively. These people have emotional granularity and empathy, but they don't allow their emotions to overwhelm them, but rather have the psychological resources to channel them properly.
10. Existential intelligence
Gardner defined existential intelligence as "the ability to position oneself with respect to the cosmos and the existential characteristics of the human condition, such as the meaning of life and death, the final destiny of the physical and psychological world in profound experiences such as love for other".
People with this type of intelligence have the propensity to reflect on their existence and think about the meaning of life and what could happen after death. Not only do they have a rich spiritual life, but they develop a tendency to philosophize and question everything, based on their profound capacity for self-observation and observation of the environment.
11. Creative intelligence
Creative intelligence is the result of combining the intellect with the imagination to create an original idea or product. In fact, although intelligence involves problem solving, it does not always lead to original solutions. People with creative intelligence, on the other hand, think outside the box and find new solutions.
This type of intelligence implies the ability to take a step forward and imagine multiple possibilities that have not yet materialized. They are people with open and flexible thinking and are able to see things from different perspectives to find unusual or new answers.
12. Collaborative intelligence
In the organizational and social network environment, a new type of intelligence has emerged which refers to the ability to work as a team to achieve a common goal. Collaborative intelligence implies an orderly deliberation that allows a group of people to create better shared knowledge and make decisions, with a greater chance of overcoming the challenges and difficulties posed by different human activities in an increasingly complex and changing environment.
It is a very special type of intelligence because it involves the ability to work with others, share knowledge and ways of doing things, to achieve a common goal. It is an intelligence of an eminently practical nature because it is more action oriented. These people feel comfortable working with others and perform at their best in these collaborative contexts.
Are these types of intelligence all valid?
The theory of multiple intelligences has been widely criticized. Many psychologists believe that it is about talents, rather than intelligence in the strictest sense of the word. However, it is undoubtedly a bold proposition that deviates from the classic conceptions of intelligence, because it is not limited to the skills traditionally recognized as manifestations of intelligence and usually rewarded in academic contexts.
The idea that there are different types of intelligence grants the same status to other talents, skills and abilities, which are not limited to logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence. Therefore, the idea that there are different types of intelligence presupposes a revolution in the whole of society by giving importance - or at least signaling - to skills less appreciated by the traditional school system.