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Interpersonal Intelligence: Definition, Examples & Characteristics

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  • 0:03 Gardner's Theory of…
  • 2:03 Interpersonal Intelligence
  • 3:10 Examples
  • 3:44 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

What do Aristotle, Helen Keller, and Abraham Lincoln all have in common? They all had interpersonal intelligence. Learn more about interpersonal intelligence from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Have you ever been told that you are people-smart? Maybe you've received compliments on your ability to understand and relate to others. Do you find yourself picking up on the emotions and concerns of those around you? If so, you have demonstrated interpersonal intelligence.

Traditionally, intelligence has been thought of and treated as one single thing. The idea of multiple intelligences was introduced by Howard Gardner in 1983. In his book titled Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner proposed that instead of there being one general intelligence, there are seven different kinds of intelligence. In 1999, Gardner added an additional intelligence to his list. They are:

  1. Logical/mathematical intelligence: includes reasoning, conceptual, and abstract thinking.
  2. Musical intelligence: includes identifying rhythms and sounds.
  3. Linguistic intelligence: includes effective usage of words.
  4. Visual/spatial intelligence: includes awareness of the environment and the ability to visualize.
  5. Intrapersonal intelligence: includes understanding one's innermost feelings.
  6. Bodily/kinesthetic intelligence: includes the ability to use the body effectively.
  7. Naturalistic intelligence: includes knowledge about nature, plants, and your surroundings.
  8. Interpersonal intelligence: includes the ability to interact with others effectively.

Each of us has our own unique combination of the intelligences. For example, a writer may be skilled at using language (linguistic intelligence) but have difficulty with using his body or athletics (bodily/kinesthetic intelligence).

What Is Interpersonal Intelligence?

Martin Luther King, Jr., Aristotle, and Mother Teresa are all historical figures that had high interpersonal intelligence. In other words, they were easily able to interact with and understand those around them. People with interpersonal intelligence are able to pick up on the mood, characteristics, emotions, and intentions of those around them. They are also able to use this information to tailor their approach of interacting with each individual.

People with interpersonal intelligence often:

  1. Work well with others
  2. Are skilled verbal and nonverbal communicators
  3. Enjoy being around others
  4. Are natural leaders among peers and groups
  5. Have good problem-solving skills
  6. Are empathetic
  7. Are good at socializing with others and enjoy discussion
  8. Can examine a situation from multiple points of view
  9. Easily form strong, positive relationships with others
  10. Are able to influence the opinions and actions of others

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