Visual Intelligence: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:01 Visual Intelligence
  • 0:13 Theory of Multiple…
  • 1:59 Visual-Spatial Intelligence
  • 3:40 Examples
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

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

What do Pablo Picasso, Donatella Versace, and Louis Braille all have in common? They all have visual intelligence. Learn more about visual intelligence from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Introduction to Visual Intelligence

Have you ever been told that you have an eye for detail? Maybe you are very aware of your surroundings. Do you have a photographic memory? If so, you have demonstrated visual-spatial intelligence.

Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

In the past century, numerous theories about intelligence have emerged. One of the more famous theories was created by developmental psychologist Howard Gardner in 1983. Gardner proposed that intelligence is not made up of one factor, but rather eight. They are:

  1. Musical intelligence: includes your awareness of musical sounds, tones, and rhythms
  2. Naturalistic intelligence: includes your awareness of trees, mountains, flowers, and other elements found in nature
  3. Interpersonal intelligence: includes your ability to relate to those around you, understand their motivations, their goals, and their feelings
  4. Intrapersonal intelligence: includes your ability to understand yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your goals, and your motivation
  5. Logical/mathematical intelligence: includes your ability to reason, think critically and analytically, and your understanding of complex mathematical concepts
  6. Linguistic intelligence: includes your ability to appreciate language and use it effectively to accomplish goals
  7. Bodily/kinesthetic intelligence: includes your athletic ability and being aware of your body
  8. Visual-spatial intelligence: includes your ability to visualize, remember images and details, and an awareness of your surroundings

Each intelligence is independent of the others. This means that having a high level of one intelligence will not guarantee that you are high in the other intelligences. For example, a Spanish professor may have a strong appreciation for language (linguistic intelligence), but may have a hard time relating to his students (interpersonal intelligence).

Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Leonardo Da Vinci and I.M. Pei are famous people with high visual-spatial, or visual, intelligence. In other words, they possess the ability to visualize the world accurately, modify their surroundings based upon their perceptions, and recreate the aspects of their visual experiences. People with high visual-spatial intelligence are good at remembering images, faces, and fine details. They are able to visualize objects from different angles.

People with high visual-spatial intelligence also have good spatial judgment and reasoning. That is, they are able to accurately judge the distance between themselves and an object, how far the object is to the right, etc. They are skilled at using their ability to visualize and their spatial judgment to complete tasks and projects that include design, judgment, and creativity. For this reason, they make good painters, artists, architects, engineers, and designers.

Visual-spatial intelligence has also been found in individuals who are blind or visually impaired. For example, a blind individual who uses touch and spatial reasoning to calculate the size, shape, width, and length of an object, which results in an accurate visual picture of the object, is showing visual-spatial intelligence.

People with visual-spatial intelligence are known to:

  • Be very aware of their surroundings
  • Remember information by creating visual pictures
  • Be artistic
  • Have a good sense of direction
  • Have the ability to read maps and charts easily
  • Easily recognize patterns
  • Be skilled at solving visual puzzles
  • Be skilled at remembering and interpreting visual information
  • Be skilled at manipulating their physical surroundings

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