Multiple Intelligence Theory

Howard Gardner

Multiple Intelligence Theory developed by Harvard professor of education Dr. Howard Gardner, and first published (in 1983) in his book, "Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences".

Gardner developed MI theory in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In doing so, he drew on evidence from a wide variety of sources, disciplines, and research traditions.

The theory is a critique of the standard psychological view of intellect: that there is a single intelligence, adequately measured by IQ or other short answer tests.

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On the basis of his research, Gardner claimed that human beings have a number of relatively discrete intellectual capacities. Whereas IQ tests assess linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence, and sometimes spatial intelligence; and they are a reasonably good predictor of who will do well in a traditional modern secular school.

But Gardner suggested that the traditional way of measuring intelligence by I.Q testing is far too restrictive and is biased to certain types of individuals with over emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic skills alone, and a person’s future success is judged accordingly.

Garner concludes that everybody’s mind is different, and that no two profiles of intelligence are the same.

A personal experience

I had a direct experience of this recently that confirmed my own opinion of the restrictive nature of the traditional IQ test. My daughter is an assistant psychologist in a young offenders institution and in preparation for some research tests that she was going to conduct, she undertook some preliminary tests on me. The test was preceded by an intelligence test.

When I took the test I was tired, and feeling stressed and little hung-over and I did not feel that I performed particularly well!

However, when she later showed me the results of the test it indicated a very high IQ score - but what was particularly noticeable to me was that the questions in the IQ test favoured a white, middle-aged, middle class person like me with a strong academic grounding in a classical/grammar school education. Someone of far greater intelligence than me, but who hadn't had the benefit of my type of education would have scored quite poorly.

7 Intelligences

The multiple intelligence theory is a cognitive perspective of human nature that suggests that people have preferred learning styles, in addition to their natural strengths and their behavioural and working styles.

The foundation of this theory is an expansion of the definiton of intelligence and Gardner identifies seven intelligences. See model below:

    Intelligence Type = Capability and Perception

  • Linguistic = words and language

  • Logical-Mathematical = logic and numbers

  • Musical = music, sound, rhythm

  • Bodily-Kinesthetic = body movement control

  • Spatial-Visual = images and space

  • Interpersonal = other people's feelings

  • Intrapersonal = self-awareness

Gardner's theory suggests that people possess a set of intelligences.


Here is a more detailed description of: Multiple Intelligences

Multiple intelligences Test

Closely related to this model is the VAK [visual, auditory, kinesthetic] learning styles model.

Try this test: VAK Learning Styles Self-Assessment Questionnaire

In depth resources:

Personality Quiz

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