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Types of Intelligence

This part of our website will be concentrating on trying to define or catagorize intelligence. As you can imagine, this is potentially a very difficult process since the world is not constituted of one aspect of life. That is to say that if everyone in the world worked for one thing, let’s just say being the world’s best weight lifter, there would only be one type of person in the world. We could either categorize an individual as being a good weight lifter or a bad weightlifter. Fortunately that is not how the world works; so you see, this is what makes today’s categorizing of intellect so difficult. One person may be a carpenter and be excellent at working with wood; another person may be a physics professor and be excellent at remembering formulas, and figuring out mathematical relationships. I would say that both of these people are intelligent, in their own way. But what does “in their own way” mean, and how can we catagorize someone’s intelligence?

Left vs. Right

Let’s start out by cutting one category of intelligence into two; Left and Right brain.  You may have heard someone tell you that they are more “left-brained” than “right-brained”.  What does this mean?

Our brains are structurally/physically split into two separate halves by the corpus callosum.  This physical boundary sets up a nice way to describe the brain; left versus right side. It is known that the differing sides of the brain perform different functions. For example, for 95% of right handed people, the area in the brain that is in charge of speech is located on the left half of the brain.

Compiling all of the specilized functions to their respective hemisphere (right and left), we are able to catagagorize and individual as “right-brained” or “left-brained” depending on what features show up as dominant in that individual.

Here is a list of common features that show up on the respective halves:

  • logical
  • sequential
  • rational
  • analytical
  • objective
  • looks at parts
  • systematic
  • symbolic
  • linear
  • factual
  • abstract
  • digital
  • Random
  • Intuitive
  • Holistic
  • Sythesizing
  • Subjective
  • Looks at wholes
  • Non-verbal
  • Casual
  • Concrete
  • Visual
  • Sensory
  • Spatial
  • emotional



However, it was not good enough to only have two different types of people (i.e. left-brained or right-brained). This is still too vague and most everyone has strong-points in the right half and left half both, so it is hard to tell which half is the dominant.

The Seven Types of Intelligence

1983, in a publication called “Frames of Mind”, Psychologist Howard Gardner (pictured below) created seven types of individual strengths to help teachers and students understand the strengths of individuals that span the entire spectrum. They are listed here with respect to gifted or talented children:

Photo from http://www.kurzweilai.net/bios/images/gardner.jpg

1. Verbal –
the ability to use words

2. Visual – the ability to imagine things in your mind

3. Physical – the ability to use your body in various situations

4. Musical - the ability to use and understand music

5. Mathematical – the ability to apply logic to systems and numbers

6. Introspective – the ability to understand your inner thoughts

7. Interpersonal – the ability to understand other people, and relate well to them

(http://gsmweb.udallas.edu/iep/immweb/seven_intel.html )

*In other sources, there may be nine different types of intelligence. The other two that are not included on the list above are:

Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”) –
Sensitive to living things. Gardner added this to his original list of seven years later).

Existential Intelligence – the ability to tackle deep questions about human existence such as the meaning of life, how did we get here, and what happens when we die.


What is your strongest type of intelligence?

Here are some easy questions to answer for each category:

Verbal – are you good at doing crossword puzzles?  Do you like to read and write? Do you like expanding your vocabulary?

Visual – do you see colorful images in your mind? Do you use charts and visuals to get points across? Can you get a sense of what something will look like?

Logical-Mathematical – Do you work well with numbers? Do you like putting things in order or? Are you good at planning?

Bodily-Physical – Do you like hands on stuff? Do you need to involve movement in everything? Do you have a favorite pastime that involves physical activity or moving?

Musical – Are you always moving to or thinking of a rhythm? Do you remember tunes and lyrics easily? Are you easily distracted by sounds? Do you enjoy sounds of all types?

Introspective – Do you enjoy solitude? Are you reflective? Do you like to explore your own feelings and thoughts?

Interpersonal – Are you good with others/people smart? Can you mediate arguments? Are you sensitive to others? Do you like teams, meetings, committees, and social events?