Everything You Need To Know About The Theory Of Multiple Intelligences

Everything You Need To Know About The Theory Of Multiple Intelligences
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Summary: What is the theory of multiple intelligences? How does it affect learning, and where can you apply it? Is it as controversial as some people believe?

What Is The Theory Of Multiple Intelligences?

Back in 1983, a psychologist named Howard Gardner did something somewhat controversial: he challenged the traditional belief that intelligence is nothing but a single, measurable entity. What he proposed was that there are multiple intelligences that are codependent and that everyone possesses varying degrees of each type of intelligence. However, there was criticism over his approach—for example, that the theory is broad and that it's more about talents than intelligence. Despite that, the theory of multiple intelligences has been applied in education for decades and has highlighted how everyone learns differently, which calls for diverse learning experiences. In this article, we'll explore Gardner's theory and evaluate where it can be applied.

The 9 Types Of Intelligence

1. Linguistic

This type of intelligence pertains to an individual's use of language. People with linguistic intelligence can successfully communicate their thoughts and express their ideas. They also have a gift for persuading people and can tactfully state their opinions and perspectives.

2. Logical-Mathematic

Those with logical-mathematic intelligence are analytical thinkers. Thus, they're good at mathematics and science and can easily solve complex problems. They also have a knack for reasoning and can find patterns in behaviors, ideas, and different situations, consequently coming up with solutions and discoveries almost effortlessly.

3. Musical

Musical intelligence helps individuals to understand music and create it with greater ease. People with this form of intelligence are able to sense rhythm, melody, and harmony. They're also drawn to singing and playing instruments. Usually, they enjoy listening to different music genres and can identify them quickly, as music is one of the primary ways to express their emotions.

4. Bodily-Kinesthetic

People with this type of intelligence typically enjoy sports and are adept at movement, coordination, and balance. They prefer learning through physical activities, as they can use their body to master things such as dance, crafts, and athletics. Another strong suit is advanced hand-eye coordination.

5. Spatial

Spatial intelligence is associated with people who gravitate toward visual arts. They possess abilities like a sense of direction, 3D visualization, and graphic design. They often excel in drawing and reading maps, as well as completing puzzles and activities that center on design.

6. Interpersonal

People with this intelligence have the ability to understand and interact with other people more effectively. They are often sensitive and empathetic, which is why they're able to foster strong relationships, both personally and professionally.

7. Intrapersonal

On the other hand, intrapersonal intelligence refers to one's ability to understand oneself, including emotions and thoughts. People with this ability are very self-aware and typically know when to seek help in all aspects of their lives. They also don't shy away from self-reflection and analyzing their own behaviors.

8. Naturalist

These individuals are close to nature and enjoy bonding with living things, including plants and animals. They also have the ability to identify changes in their environment and can categorize information, which is beneficial during the learning process.

9. Existential

This is the newest addition to Gardner's theory. People who possess a high degree of existential intelligence are often sensitive and prone to ponder the meaning of life and death. They're able to see the grand scheme of things and determine how small acts have an impact on long-term goals.

Where We Can Apply The Theory Of Multiple Intelligences

Instructional Design

The theory has been used in education to create new approaches to curriculum development, such as designing learning experiences that fit the students' individual needs and strengths. For example, learners who lean more toward interpersonal intelligence might prefer social learning activities that allow them to collaborate with their peers.

Assessment And Evaluation

Traditionally, intelligence is measured with an IQ test or other metrics of academic achievement. These are informative but don't cover the whole extent of one's cognitive abilities. The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that it should be used as an assessment to understand someone's strong suits and areas for improvement. To do that, you can use a multiple-intelligence assessment tool that includes a series of questions or tasks to identify the types of intelligence that learners possess.


Employers can use multiple-intelligence assessments to identify job candidates with the right skillsets. For example, some jobs require interpersonal intelligence, like sales or human resources, and an assessment can show you if someone is empathetic enough for the role. Additionally, the theory is useful in team building, as managers are able to create a team of people with different types of intelligences and strengths.


The theory of multiple intelligences has sparked some controversy. There are some critics that believe the theory is unsupported, as there isn't enough evidence to prove the existence of multiple intelligences. Some claim there are more intelligences that Gardner may not have included in his original theory. Another criticism is that the theory doesn't take into consideration factors like genetics, environment, social status, and education.


Despite the criticism, the theory of multiple intelligences has changed how we think about intelligence and individual cognitive abilities in many respects. The theory suggests that intelligence isn't just a trait but it can be nurtured in different ways to prompt people to identify their unique strengths and preferences. Gardner's theory can also be applied in various aspects of everyday life to explain certain behaviors and tendencies or even personal interests. Ultimately, eLearning professionals can use it to shape their instructional strategies and optimize learners' experiences.