Copyright

Intelligence Theories and Types

Renee Wunderlich, Natalie Boyd
  • Author
    Renee Wunderlich

    Renee Wunderlich has a B.S. in Marine Biology and minor in psychology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She also holds a teaching certificate for 6th-12th grade Biology in the state of Florida. She has taught middle school science for four years. Prior to the classroom, Renee conducted and implemented marine science education programs at a variety of summer camps and aquariums.

  • Instructor
    Natalie Boyd

    Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Learn about the types of intelligence, and how intelligence is defined. Examine forms of intelligence, and their descriptions according to different theorists. Updated: 11/06/2021

Table of Contents

Show

What is Intelligence?

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.

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Studying Intelligence: Biological vs. Environmental Factors

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:07 What Is Intelligence?
  • 1:26 Multiple Intelligences
  • 3:05 Triarchic Theory of…
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Types of Intelligence: How Many Types of Intelligence Are There?

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.

Different View of Intelligence

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's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

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.

Gardner

girl and boy with 3D robotics image

List of Intelligence Types by Gardner

Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence identifies eight major categories of intelligence:

  • Linguistic intelligence-ability to read, write, and speak well
  • Logical/Mathematical intelligence-capability of solving problems using math or logic
  • Spatial intelligence-ability to visualize and think in three dimensional images
  • Musical intelligence-aptitude to recognize and appreciate rhythm and music
  • Kinesthetic intelligence-skill in directing one's own body parts and physical coordination
  • Interpersonal intelligence-aptness to interacting with other people and recognizing moods and perspectives
  • Intrapersonal intelligence-wherewithal to examine one's own internal thoughts and feelings
  • Naturalist intelligence-aptitude to classify and appreciate plants, animals, and nature

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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 7 types of intelligence?

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.

How do humans define 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.

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days