Table of Contents
- What is Intelligence?
- Types of Intelligence: How Many Types of Intelligence Are There?
- Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences
- Robert J. Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
- Lesson Summary
Defining intelligence can be very complicated. Is it how well a student does in school? Is it how quickly a person learns a new concept, or can solve a problem? Is it perhaps how well a person interacts with others, and sees different perspectives? What about other species in the animal kingdom-can they have varying levels of intelligence? When you start to think deeply about intelligence, it is easy to see why there are different views on the concept. Psychologists have debated these viewpoints for decades and several popular, yet very different, theories on the topic have arisen.
A broad and simple definition of intelligence is the skill or capacity to learn new information, and apply this information to future scenarios. Depending on the perspective or theory, however, this definition can change and take on additional or varying components.
The number and types of intelligence differ based on the theorist's ideas being examined. One theory presents just a single type of intelligence.
Another suggests there are as many as eight types of intelligence. These types can span across vastly different areas - from cognitive, such as problem solving; to social; and even to how a person is able to move his or her body.
Three theorists' views on intelligence have become widely accepted, but also debated. Alfred Binet was an early researcher in this field, and is credited with the measurement tool known as the Intelligence Quotient, or IQ. His IQ test was developed to measure how people perform on tasks that are not specific to any knowledge base or content learned in school, but rather skills such as recalling patterns, or properly arranging items. The quotient itself is a ratio of a person's mental age to their true age.
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, a more recently developed theory in the 1980s, addresses the idea that people could have as many as eight different types of intelligence. These include intelligence in areas such as music, language, and even the ability to interact with other people.
Finally, Robert J. Sternberg's theory suggests there are just three types of intelligence in his triarchic theory of intelligence. These include analytical, practical, and creative thinking.
Howard Gardner is an American psychologist who presented his theory of various categories of intelligence in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983. This theory gained traction because it suggests there is more than one way to be intelligent. It is popular in the field of education because it is believed that if teachers can create lessons and curricula that reach multiple types of intelligence, more students will be able to connect with the material in a way that is meaningful to them, and thus be more successful in academics.
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence identifies eight major categories of intelligence:
You can probably imagine different types of people who might have the prevalence of one of these intelligences over another. For example, a writer would likely have linguistic intelligence, an athlete would posses kinesthetic intelligence, and a therapist would exhibit interpersonal intelligence.
The main criticism of Gardner's theory is that the categories are not really cognitive abilities, but rather specific talents or skills. Perhaps they are simply a person's traits, rather than a type of intelligence. It is also argued that these types of intelligence cannot be scientifically or objectively measured, such as in Binet's general intelligence theory.
Robert J. Sternberg's contributions to the field of intelligence are the most recent. Like Gardner, he is an American psychologist with credentials at many well-known universities. His theory also includes multiple intelligences, but only three. Sternberg is passionate about the idea that people can be successful in life, even if they do not perform well academically. His view is that the education system, with its emphasis on academic testing, does not take into account other types of intelligence people might possess. His theory suggests that three ways of thinking contribute to a person's ability to solve problems, and thus contribute to their overall intelligence.
The three types of intelligence described in Sternberg's triarchic theory are as follows:
A major criticism of Sternberg's theory is that it makes a distinction between academic intelligence, and practical intelligence. Many believe that academic intelligence actually correlates highly with success in the real world, and can be used as an accurate predictor of career success. It has also been suggested that there may be flaws in Sternberg's study methods, and reporting of findings.
Intelligence is very difficult to define. Alfred Binet's theory is based on a measurable test with an outcome called the Intelligence Quotient, or IQ. Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences suggest there are as many as eight types of intelligence, such as linguistic, musical, logical, and even interpersonal. Arguments against this theory propose that these types of intelligences are skills or talents, rather than types of intelligence. Robert J. Sternberg's triarchic theory states there are multiple types of intelligence-analytical, creative, and practical. His theory supports the idea that a person can have intelligence outside of academic, and cognitive intelligence. Critics of this theory argue that general intelligence is not distinct from creative, and practical intelligence. When discussing intelligence, the meaning and definition changes based on the theory being examined.
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1. Linguistic intelligence-ability to read, write, and speak well
2. Logical/Mathematical intelligence-capability of solving problems using math or logic
3. Spatial intelligence-ability to visualize and think in three dimensional images
4. Musical intelligence-aptitude to recognize and appreciate rhythm and music
5. Kinesthetic intelligence-skill in directing one's own body parts and physical coordination
6. Interpersonal intelligence-aptness to interacting with other people and recognizing moods and perspectives
7. Intrapersonal intelligence-wherewithal to examine one's own internal thoughts and feelings
An eighth type is also recognized, known as naturalist Intelligence.
Humans define intelligence as the skill or capacity to learn new information, and apply this information to future scenarios. Because there are several different theories and viewpoints on intelligence, it is difficult to accurately define.
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