November 29, 2023

What is the theory of multiple intelligences?

In 1983, psychologist Howard Gardner did something rather controversial: he challenged the traditional belief that intelligence is nothing more than a single measurable entity. He proposed that there are multiple intelligences that are interdependent and that everyone has varying degrees of each type of intelligence. However, his approach has been met with criticism – for example, that the theory is broad and that it is more about talents than intelligence. Despite this, the theory of multiple intelligences has been used in education for decades and emphasizes how everyone learns differently, requiring different learning experiences. In this article we will explore Gardner’s theory and evaluate where it can be applied.

9 types of intelligence

1. Linguistic

This type of intelligence refers to the individual’s use of language. People with linguistic intelligence can successfully communicate their thoughts and express their thoughts. They also have a gift for persuading people and can tactfully express their opinions and views.

2. Logical-mathematical

Those with logical-mathematical intelligence are analytical thinkers. So they are good at math and science and can easily solve complex problems. They also have a knack for reasoning and can find patterns in behavior, ideas and different situations, so they come up with solutions and discoveries almost effortlessly.

3. The musical

Musical intelligence helps individuals understand and create music with greater ease. People with this form of intelligence are able to sense rhythm, melody and harmony. They are also attracted to singing and playing instruments. They usually enjoy listening to different genres of music and can quickly identify them because music is one of the primary ways they express their emotions.

4. Bodily-kinesthetic

People with this type of intelligence usually enjoy sports and are adept at movement, coordination and balance. They prefer learning through physical activities because they can use their bodies to master things like dance, crafts, and athletics. Another strength is advanced hand-eye coordination.

5. Spatial

Spatial intelligence is associated with people who gravitate towards the visual arts. They have skills like sense of direction, 3D visualization and graphic design. They often excel at drawing and reading maps, as well as completing puzzles and activities that focus on design.

6. Interpersonal

People with this intelligence have the ability to understand other people and communicate more effectively with them. They are often sensitive and empathetic and therefore able to build strong relationships, both personal and professional.

7. Intrapersonal

On the other hand, intrapersonal intelligence refers to one’s ability to understand oneself, including emotions and thoughts. People with this ability are very confident and usually know when to seek help in all aspects of their lives. They do not avoid self-reflection and analysis of their own behavior.

8. Naturalist

These individuals are close to nature and enjoy connecting with living things, including plants and animals. They also have the ability to identify changes in their environment and can categorize information, which is beneficial during the learning process.

9. Existential

This is the latest addition to Gardner’s theory. People with a high degree of existential intelligence are often sensitive and tend to think about the meaning of life and death. They are able to see the big scheme of things and determine how small actions impact long-term goals.

Where we can use the theory of multiple intelligences

Instructional design

This theory has been used in education to create new approaches to curriculum development, such as designing learning experiences that match the individual needs and strengths of students. For example, students who lean more toward interpersonal intelligence may prefer social learning activities that allow them to collaborate with their peers.

Assessment and evaluation

Traditionally, intelligence has been measured using an IQ test or other metrics of academic achievement. They are informative, but do not cover the entire range of human cognitive abilities. The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that it should be used as an assessment to understand one’s strengths and areas for improvement. To do this, you can use a multiple intelligences assessment tool that contains a series of questions or tasks to identify the types of intelligence students have.


Employers can use multiple intelligence assessments to identify job applicants with the right skills. For example, some jobs require interpersonal intelligence, such as sales or human resources, and an assessment can show you whether someone is empathetic enough for the role. Additionally, this theory is useful in team building because managers are able to create a team of people with different types of intelligence and strengths.


The theory of multiple intelligences has caused some controversy. Some critics believe that the theory is unfounded because there is not enough evidence to prove the existence of multiple intelligences. Some argue that there are multiple intelligences that Gardner may not have included in his original theory. Another criticism is that the theory does not take into account factors such as genetics, environment, social status and education.


Despite criticism, the theory of multiple intelligences has in many ways changed the way we think about intelligence and individual cognitive abilities. The theory suggests that intelligence is not just a trait, but can be cultivated in a variety of ways to get people to identify their unique strengths and preferences. Gardner’s theory can also be applied in various aspects of everyday life to explain certain behaviors and tendencies or even personal interests. Ultimately, e-learning professionals can use it to shape their learning strategies and optimize the student experience.

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