Types of Intelligence and How to Find The One You Are Best In
Being referred to or described as “intelligent” is probably one of the best compliments you can hope for. Certainly, people with high levels of intelligence are accorded a lot of respect and admiration. Basically, they are viewed as a cut above the rest.
But there are downsides to that, too, since being described as intelligent can be quite restricting and, at the same time, put a lot of pressure on you. You are expected to be excellent or outstanding at everything, and your smallest mistake will be picked on and criticized.
This mostly stems from the fact that people, in general, have a single perception on what intelligence is. For most people, being intelligent is perceived as having a lot of useful (and sometimes non-useful) knowledge and skills, and being able to apply such knowledge and skills.
That’s not wrong, mind you. In fact, it is one of the several accurate definitions of intelligence circulating today. Where it goes wrong in actual application is how people believe that being knowledgeable and skilled at general and random information is a sign of being intelligent.
You see, there are several types of intelligence, and that’s what we will look into in the succeeding discussion.
CATTELL-HORN’S TWO TYPES OF INTELLIGENCE
In Psychology, there are two types of intelligence, as identified by American psychologists Raymond Cattell and John Horn: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.
Their theory holds that an individual’s overall intelligence is a result of different skills and abilities mixing and interacting together.
Fluid intelligence is described as the “general ability to think abstractly, reason, identify patterns, solve problems, and discern relationships”. It is something that depends mainly on one’s native ability, and not something that can be obtained or acquired through education, training, or even experience and exposure to various environmental factors.
This type of intelligence is often used when you are solving puzzles, answering riddles, or coming up with strategies to solve a particular problem. If you are a person with “street smarts”, that’s one way of saying that you have high fluid intelligence. Navigational skills, for example, means your ability to use your sense of direction, even in a city that you’ve never been to, or you’ve only visited once before.
One way to clearly identify this type of intelligence is its flexibility and how adaptive it is, in the sense that it can be applied or used in different ways, depending on the situation.
This type of intelligence is the opposite of fluid intelligence in the sense that it is about having knowledge and skills that are obtained through education, learning and experience. While fluid intelligence basically remains the same throughout a person’s life, crystallized intelligence can actually increase.
An example often cited is vocabulary knowledge. As you go to school every year, your vocabulary knowledge will definitely increase. Taking math exams is another example. At first, you learn about algebraic and mathematical theories.
As you take more advanced math subjects or courses, you’ll learn more about the application of those theories, until your mathematical skills crystallize.
GARDNER’S NINE TYPES OF INTELLIGENCE
Cattell and Horn’s position that there is more than one type of intelligence was affirmed a decade later when fellow American psychologist Howard Gardner introduced his Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983.
His theory suggests that there is more to being intelligent than simply being proficient in languages or being good in math.
Let us go over each of the nine types of intelligence identified in Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, and try to find the one that you are best in.
1. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Usually, one of the most obvious gauges used in determining whether one is intelligent or not is his logical ability or his ability to solve mathematical problems. That type of intelligence falls under this category.
This type of intelligence describes superior inductive and deductive reasoning and calculating ability, so that anyone who possesses it is able to think conceptually and abstractly. In any given situation, they find it very easy to spot trends and patterns and understand relationships. Order and sequencing figure greatly in your thinking processes.
You have high logical-mathematical intelligence if:
- you are good with numbers and various tasks that involve quantifying things, such as mathematical operations and arithmetic problems
- you enjoy performing experiments and conducting investigations in order to prove the hypotheses that you’ve formulated earlier
- you enjoy playing logic and strategy games, and you do it often to further hone your intelligence
- you enjoy the challenge of unraveling mysteries and solving puzzles
- your curiosity makes you ask cosmic or deep questions
The learning style for people with logical-mathematical intelligence involves acquiring theoretical knowledge of concepts first, before they can get down to dealing with the finer details.
People with high logical-mathematical intelligence are best suited in occupations such as mathematicians, detectives, investigative journalists, and scientists.
2. Linguistic Intelligence
Linguistic intelligence refers to a person’s ability to use words effectively. Some people think that if you know more than two languages, then you have superior linguistic ability.
That is correct, but that is not all there is to being linguistically intelligent. You see, you may only know one language and still be deemed to have superior linguistic intelligence if you prove that you can use that single language very well.
In other words, linguistic intelligence is seen in your ability to find the right words to express what you mean.
You have high linguistic intelligence if:
- you have a way with words, and can use it to achieve an objective, such as persuasion or convincing someone to do something or act in a certain manner
- you have a rich vocabulary, and you know what words to use, and how and when to use them
- you like to read a lot, and you may also want to write a lot
- you enjoy playing word games, or other similar games that involve word use
- you have an easy grasp of other languages or dialects, even if fluency is not required
People who demonstrate high linguistic intelligence include authors, novelists, poets, journalists, public speakers, and motivational speakers. To a great extent, politicians are also deemed to be linguistically intelligent.
3. Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Believe it or not, there are people who have difficulty viewing or visualizing the world in its three dimensions. When we talk about being able to think in 3D, the following capacities are involved:
- Mental imagery, or the capacity of the person to draw up, in his mind, an image or picture as representation of the physical world. Whether it is from a past memory or an actual previous experience with that object, he can easily “see” in his mind’s eye that object, even if it is not physically present within his line of sight.
- Spatial reasoning, or the capacity to perceive and think about objects in 3D, even despite having limited information about it. It also covers the capacity to draw generalizations from the limited information available. Mention a cube, and he will immediately think of an object with six sides. Mention a pyramid, and he will have an image of how a pyramid will look like when viewed from the front or from the top.
- Image manipulation, or the capacity to view an image and picture how it will look like when tweaked or altered. Some people have trouble picturing the end result when an image’s appearance is changed, while there are those who have no issues seeing how it will turn out when the proposed changes have been effected.
- Artistic skills, or the ability and skills in creating fine art. Graphic skills also fall under this category. Essentially, being visually and spatially intelligent often go hand in hand with creativity, especially in several professions or lines of work.
Let us not forget that visual-spatial intelligence also involves having a very active imagination. Most of the time, you will be drawing on your imagination when putting this intelligence to use.
You have high visual-spatial intelligence if:
- you have a high awareness of your surrounding environments
- you have very good navigation skills and a sharp sense of direction
- you enjoy playing with jigsaw puzzles and games that involve maps and mazes
- you like to draw and work with pictures and images
- you tend to daydream a lot, creating scenarios in your head
A person with visual-spatial intelligence will become highly lauded as painters, sculptors, architects and designers. Those who are working with distances are also known to possess this type of intelligence, and the prime examples are pilots and seafarers.
4. Naturalist Intelligence
Being able to “read” and understand nature, and all the living things in and on it, is also a type of intelligence. Having sensitivity for all living and non-living elements in nature makes you “nature-smart”.
You have high naturalist intelligence if:
- you love nature, and enjoy spending time outdoors
- you are able to connect easily with animals
- you have a knack for raising animals or making plants grow (what people call “green thumb”)
People with naturalist intelligence work best as botanists, agriculturists, forest and park rangers.
5. Musical Intelligence
Can you carry a tune? Do you have a talent for dissecting the elements and details of sound? Then you should count yourself as one of the intelligence ones when it comes to musicality. If you are very sensitive to rhythm and sound, then you possess this type of intelligence.
You have high musical intelligence if:
- you can discern sounds and break them down – their pitch, rhythm, tone and timber – easily
- you love – and can recognize, create, and/or reflect – on music
- you are comfortable with music or sound playing in the background even when you are doing other things
- you are highly sensitive to even the smallest sound, so that you can hear sounds that others miss
People with musical intelligence find their niche as musicians, composers, vocalists, composers, conductors, sound mixers and sound engineers.
6. Existential Intelligence
This may sound too deep for some, but tackling existentialism issues and questions is also a form of intelligence. This denotes a deep sensitivity and a high capacity to tackle very serious questions, combined with a passion to pursue the answers to these questions.
You have high existential intelligence if:
- you are genuine in your curiosity to the answers of questions the likes of which include “why do we live?”, “why do we die?” and “what happens to us after death?”, to name a few.
- you demonstrate high sensitivity when it comes to matters related to human existence
People with existential intelligence are most suited in jobs in psychology and theology. Motivational speakers are also expected to possess this type of intelligence in great amounts.
7. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
Have you ever heard of hand-eye coordination? Usually, people who have superior hand-eye coordination make a killing in the field of sports. However, it is rare for us to hear athletes being described as “intelligence” by virtue of their athleticism.
Well, there is also such a thing as mind-body coordination, and this is what bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is. Mainly it is about physical skills, and how you are able to use your physicality to manipulate objects and other elements around you.
You have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence if:
- you have a keen sense of body awareness, knowing what you are capable of and recognizing your physical limits
- you can communicate well using body language, with gestures and actions that can convey the message you intend to deliver to the recipients
- you have no issues with physical contact, since you are comfortable touching other people or being touched
- you have, at least, a very good sense of timing when it comes to performing physical tasks and activities
- you are good with your hands, such that you can handle tools and machines with a high degree of deftness, combined with an economy of movement
- you like making or creating something with your hands
People who possess bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are usually athletes, dancers, acrobats and stage performers. Craftsmen, or those who create highly detailed crafts and products, are also known to demonstrate impressive mind and body union.
But perhaps the best example of somebody who is good with their hands is a surgeon, whose every action – no matter how small – inside the operating room, will dictate how a patient’s life will go.
8. Interpersonal Intelligence
Your emotion also has very close links with your intelligence; we even have what is known as “emotional intelligence” or EQ. In this case, interpersonal intelligence refers to your ability to sense other people’s feelings, as well as read their motives.
They say that you have above average interpersonal skills if you possess good to very good communication skills – both verbal and non-verbal. That is usually the first thing that you will notice in a person with high interpersonal intelligence.
You have high interpersonal intelligence if:
- you can easily spot distinctions or differences among people, and you also find it easy to recognize them even in a large crowd
- you have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and you are comfortable spending time with other people
- you are sensitive to the moods and temperament of other people
- you are able to look at things from various points of view or perspectives, instead of just sticking to your own angle
People with high interpersonal intelligence will do great as teachers, social workers, and politicians. Stage and film actors also use their interpersonal intelligence to essay or portray any character.
9. Intrapersonal Intelligence
Self-awareness is also a form of intelligence. If you understand yourself, if you know what you are feeling and why you are feeling it, and if you know exactly what you want and need, then you can confidently say that you possess intrapersonal intelligence.
But wait, doesn’t that make you sound like a self-absorbed narcissist? If we leave the description at that, it definitely does make you appear like one.
However, having intrapersonal intelligence also involves possessing an appreciation and respect for human condition, in general. This means that you will also view yourself with respect to that of other people.
You have high intrapersonal intelligence if:
- you are self-motivated, meaning you tend to put yourself first when assessing various situations you come across
- you are strong-willed and independent, and have no issue learning by yourself
- you are fully aware of your feelings, and you take action to planning and directing your life, without primarily depending on others to dictate what you should do
- you tend to be shy and introverted, preferring to keep to yourself and have solo moments for self-reflection
People with high intrapersonal intelligence are those who would be most comfortable as spiritual leaders, psychologists, guidance counselors, and even philosophers.
Is it possible to possess all nine? Yes, there is definitely a high probability of that. In fact, some even claim that we all have, to a certain degree, all of the nine types of intelligence. It’s just a matter of some types of intelligence being higher or more apparent than others.
Now, have you found the type of intelligence that you possess in greatest abundance?