Are you “intelligent”?

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tl;drA lot of us need to stop generalizing “intelligence” as a factor of only being good at science and/or analytical problem solving.

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There are multiple theories around what is “intelligence” and who is considered an “intelligent” person. The word “intelligent” can be replaced by other words like “smart”, “intellectual”, “sharp”, “canny” etc. but that doesn’t change the point I am trying to make here. Growing up in India, I have seen people looking up to people who are good at Mathematics, for example, but not so much if you excel at arts. And while this prejudice might be more prevalent in some countries than others, it undoubtedly exists across the world.


In 1983, Howard E Gardner, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education wrote a book called “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences” [1]. While his work is still argued by some psychologists and academicians as is the case with most theories, it is still regarded as one of the pioneer works done in the field of differentiating human intelligence.


Below are the 8 types of human intelligence as defined by Howard in his book that I have paraphrased and intentionally kept concise. But if you are interested in learning more about it, grab his latest book and give it a go!

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1. Visual-Spatial intelligence – are you good at putting puzzles together? Can you interpret charts and graphs well? Do you enjoy drawing and painting?

2. Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence – are you skilled at dancing or sports? Do you remember things by doing rather than seeing or hearing? Do you like to create things with your hands?

3. Linguistic-Verbal intelligence – do you like writing stories? Can you memorize stuff easily? Are you good at debating and/or giving persuasive speeches?

4. Musical intelligence – do you like to play musical instruments or enjoy singing? Can you remember songs and melodies without much effort? Are you able to recognize musical patterns and notes easily?

5. Naturalistic intelligence – do you like being near nature camping or hiking? Are you interested in learning about other species? Do you find it easy to find patterns and relationships to nature?

6. Interpersonal intelligence – can you communicate well both verbally and in writing? Are you good at assessing emotions/motivations/intentions of people around you? Can you see situations from different perspectives?

7. Intrapersonal intelligence – are you good at self reflecting and being aware of your own emotional state and feelings? Do you enjoy exploring relationships with others? Are you good at analyzing theories and ideas?

8. Logical-Mathematical intelligence – are you good with numbers? Can you recognize patterns easily? Do you enjoy thinking about abstract ideas?

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One can be considered “intelligent” in multiple fields and you might have a higher chance of being “successful” at something that comes more naturally to you, both professionally and personally. And I would even go to the extent of saying that, in my opinion, being aware of different kinds of intelligence can also help build more meaningful relationships with people around you.


Enough knowledge sharing for now and congrats if you made it this far in the post. And cheers to being more “intelligent” 🙂


[1]Gardner, Howard E. Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. Hachette Uk, 2011.

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