Howard Gardner - Multiple Intelligences and Frames of Mind: Overview

Instructor: Gary Gilles

Gary has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology and has been teaching and developing courses in higher education since 1988.

Howard Gardner pioneered a new way of thinking about intelligence that is unconventional but well received. His theory has practical application for how we go about learning new skills and choosing the type of work we find most satisfying. Learn more about Howard Gardner and the different types of intelligences, then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is a psychologist and professor of neuroscience at Harvard University and is best known for developing the theory of Multiple Intelligences. His popular 1983 book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, explains his theory in detail.

What Is Meant by Multiple Intelligences?

Multiple Intelligences
Multiple Intelligences

Gardner's research led him to the conclusion that people don't have just one type of mental intelligence (the kind that is typically measured by an IQ test). Instead, he believes that we all possess nine different types of intelligence that can be observed and measured in daily life. These intelligences reflect the different ways we interact with the world. For example, a child who is able to quickly learn his multiplication tables is no more or less intelligent than a similar-aged boy who can do amazing tricks on a skate board. The one boy has a mathematical intelligence while the other an athletic type of intelligence. Both are types of intelligence but use different sets of skills.

How Frames of Mind Breaks New Ground

Gardner's theory breaks with traditional views that assume intelligence is a genetically endowed trait and is primarily measured by a cognitive test. The conventional view places a heavy emphasis on the academic skills of linguistic and mathematical intelligence and downplays the abilities of people who exhibit other types of intelligence, such as artists, musicians, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs and others. By broadening out the definition of intelligence, Gardner says it is not a question of whether a person is intelligent but in what way he or she is intelligent.

What Are the Nine Intelligences?

Although Gardner believes that every person has all nine intelligences, each person has a unique profile of how these intelligences fit together, similar to your own unique fingerprint. The goal is to identify your dominant intelligence and use that avenue for learning new skills and finding the type of work that is most satisfying.

Here are the nine types of intelligences along with occupational matches for each:

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