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Seven Types of Intelligence

You may be smarter than you think. You just need to know what type of "intelligence" is being considered.

by Mario Seiglie

Imagine being told by your elementary school principal that "you will never amount to much." Years later, you end up dropping out of high school and then fail the university entrance exams.

After finally entering university, you realize most of the professors are against you. And after graduating, your classmates land nice jobs while you are unemployed. You're turned down for all the university positions you apply for. Finally, friends help you land a temporary job in a government patent office at the bottom of the pay scale.

Doesn't sound like a very promising career, does it?

Meanwhile, in a nearby country, a student fails miserably in elementary school. His teachers are exasperated. The boy will do nothing but draw! No matter what incentives or threats are used, he refuses to focus on reading, writing or math. He finally drops out of elementary school.

Both these descriptions are of real people—famous figures in 20th-century history. The first is probably the most brilliant thinker of modern times: Albert Einstein. The second is regarded as one of the most influential painters of his time: Pablo Picasso.

Seven Types of Intelligence

What their elementary school educators failed to see was that these individuals each excelled in a particular type of intelligence—to the detriment of the other types.

Most people are familiar with only one type of intelligence. It's the same one that IQ (intelligence quotient) exams are based on: the ability for logical reasoning.

Yet today we know there are at least seven key types of intelligence, and they can be as different from each other as night and day. This is a reason some intelligent people have performed poorly in school; their category of intelligence was not readily recognized. Most people excel in one class of intelligence and are average in the other types.

Today, many teachers are taught to identify which of these seven types of intelligence is found in a student and to then encourage the student to focus on that strength. Most successful people, as the stories of Einstein and Picasso show, focus on their particular type of intelligence and learn to get the maximum benefit out of it. You can learn to do the same.

What are the seven basic types of intelligence, and what can they mean to your life and career?

1. Logical-mathematical intelligence

This is the ability to apply logic to systems and numbers. People who have this type are natural problem solvers. They usually perform well on traditional IQ tests. Engineers, scientists, economists and mathematicians have this type of intelligence. This may be one of your strongest intelligences if you...

• Are good at solving mysteries and logic problems.

• Excel in math.

• Organize concepts and things well.

• Are acutely interested in scientific discoveries.

• Figure out how things work.

• Are good with computers.

2. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence

People with this type of intelligence learn best through bodily movement and usually excel in physical activities such as dancing and sports. They have excellent motor skills and balance. They often have a difficult time sitting still in traditional classrooms and want to get up and "do" the activity. Athletes, doctors, soldiers, dancers and actors are strong in this intelligence. This may be one of your strongest intelligences if you...

• Excel in sports.

• Are a good dancer.

• Are expressive and skilled at acting.

• Can build things.

• Can accurately throw or hit a ball.

3. Visual-spatial intelligence

This is the ability to perceive the world and re-create it without physical stimuli. This type of intelligence allows you to literally think in pictures and draw the images on paper. Architects, designers, artists and sculptors are generally strong in this type of intelligence. This may be one of your strongest intelligences if you...

• Are good at assembling puzzles.

• Are a good judge of art or photography.

• Grasp geometry over algebra.

• Study more effectively with charts and pictures.

• Doodle or draw.

• Notice details.

4. Interpersonal (or emotional) intelligence

This is the ability to empathize with people—the skill of understanding the moods and motivations of others. People with this intelligence tend to be extroverts and work in fields where they interact with others on a daily basis. This type of intelligence is generally found in politicians, teachers, managers, salespeople, church pastors and social workers. This may be one of your strongest intelligences if you...

• Feel people's moods.

• Are sociable.

• Are sensitive to injustices or dishonesty.

• Are a good listener and encourager.

• Have difficulty treating others unkindly.

• Engage productively in deep conversations.

5. Intrapersonal intelligence

This is the ability to understand yourself and your inner thoughts. People with this skill are usually introverts, have a strong sense of independence, are self-confident and tend to be perfectionists. They are the "deep thinkers" in our society. Philosophers, writers and scientists exhibit this intelligence. This may be one of your strongest intelligences if you...

• Are often pondering matters.

• Daydream imaginatively.

• Are self-critical.

• Really get absorbed in a good book.

• Can break down complicated ideas.

• Judge people accurately.

6. Musical intelligence

This is the ability to use and understand music. People with this intelligence typically have good pitch, can sing, and play different musical instruments. They like to have music playing in the background and often use music and rhythms to help memorize information. Musicians, composers and singers have this type of intelligence. This may be one of your strongest intelligences if you...

• Can perform well in a band.

• Can read music and remember old songs.

• Will analyze a new song critically.

• Can figure out how to play a tune on an instrument.

• Are able to compose music.

7. Verbal-linguistic intelligence

Those with this form of intelligence can easily learn a new language and are good at reading and writing. They learn best in a traditional setting and are good debaters. Demonstrating such intelligence are writers, journalists, politicians, poets, teachers and philosophers. This may be one of your strongest intelligences if you...

• Write well.

• Are good with crossword puzzles.

• Are eloquent.

• Tell good stories.

• Are funny.

• Enjoy debates or arguments.

• Explain things well.

• Have a great vocabulary and are keen to learn new words and their origins.

Did you note what types of intelligence you have and which ones you excel in? Once you find out where your talents lie and identify your passion, then you can better apply the wise directive in Ecclesiastes 9:10 of ancient Israel's King Solomon to be successful in your life: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." VT

About the Author
Mario Seiglie is the father of four adult daughters and pastor of United Church of God congregations in Garden Grove, California, and Honolulu, Hawaii. Comments or Questions
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