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Theories of Intelligence

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Theories of Intelligence

What makes someone intelligent? Has someone ever surprised you with a remarkably astute comment in one area but demonstrated a complete lack of skill in another area? Why do we excel in some areas but feel out of our depth in others? Is intelligence one static, fixed element or is it deeply nuanced and dynamic? Let's take a deeper look at intelligence below. You might just find that you are more (or less!) intelligent than you think.

  • What is Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences?
  • What is Goleman's theory of emotional intelligence?
  • What is the triarchic theory of intelligence

Theories of Intelligence in Psychology

Early research on intelligence conducted by psychologist Charles Spearman focused on one general unit of measurement known as the g-factor. Researchers found that those who scored high on aptitude tests in one subject often scored high in other subjects. This led them to believe that intelligence could be understood as a single general unit, g. G-factor can also be observed in other areas of life. For example, someone who is a skilled painter might also be a skilled sculptor and photographer. High ability in one art form is often generalized across multiple art forms. However, over time we have come to understand intelligence as a far more comprehensive and nuanced concept.

Theories of Intelligence, woman reading, StudySmarterWoman reading, pixabay.com

The field of psychology has come a long way from regarding intelligence as one fixed element. Over the years, there have been several theories of intelligence that have helped shape our ideas of not only what intelligence is, but how exactly we are intelligent.

Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Understanding exactly how we are intelligent is precisely what inspired Howard Gardner to create the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. This theory doesn't focus so much on how intelligent you are but instead concerns itself with the multiple kinds of intelligence that you might express.

Gardner argued for a basic set of at least eight different bits of intelligence. They are linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, and naturalist intelligence. Gardener suggests there may be even more categories of intelligence, like existential intelligence.

What does it mean to have high naturalist intelligence? Who might be more spatially intelligent than others? Let's take a closer look at Garder's eight categories of intelligence.

Linguistic Intelligence

As the name suggests, this represents the domain of language. Not just the ability to learn one or multiple new languages, but also one's capabilities in their native language. This includes reading comprehension, learning new words, writing, and independent reading.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

This encompasses classic mathematical skills like addition, subtraction, and multiplication. It includes formulating a hypothesis and working it through the scientific method. It also includes reasoning, problem-solving, and logical debate skills.

Interpersonal Intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence is the domain of our social intelligence. It is not a scale of introversion versus extroversion, but our ability to make deep and lasting friendships, communicate effectively, and understand and manage the emotions of others.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

This is the domain of the self. Intrapersonal intelligence encompasses our abilities to recognize, understand, and process our own emotions. It encompasses our self-awareness, self-reflection, mindfulness, and introspectiveness.

Spatial Intelligence

This includes our ability to understand the space around us and the ability to comprehend and utilize space within our environment. Spatial intelligence applies to sports, dance and performing arts, sculpting, painting, and doing puzzles.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence concerns the ability to control one's body and to move with skill and accuracy. Those with high skills in this area might excel in sports, the performing arts, or skilled craftsmanship.

Musical Intelligence

Musical intelligence involves our ability to create, learn, perform, and appreciate music. It includes learning to sing or play a musical instrument, understanding music theory, our sense of rhythm, and recognizing musical patterns and progressions.

Naturalist Intelligence

Naturalist intelligence involves our ability to appreciate the natural world. This includes things like our ability to recognize and cultivate different plants, take care of animals, and our inclination to be in nature.

Importance of Gardner's Theory

Gardner believed that multiple intelligences were often at work during any one task. However, he argued that each intelligence is ruled by a corresponding area of the brain. If someone sustained an injury to one part of the brain it would not affect all areas of intelligence comprehensively. An injury might compromise some skills but leave others perfectly intact. Gardner's theory also lends support to conditions like savant syndrome. Those with this condition are usually exceptionally gifted in one area but fall short of average on intelligence tests.

Gardner's theory has been influential in schools and education facilities, which have often disproportionately relied on standardized testing. In response, educators have developed a curriculum that is meant to cultivate different areas of intelligence.

In recent years, Gardner has made an argument for an existential intelligence that concerns itself with our ability to think philosophically about existence and our lives. As our world becomes more introspective, this is an intelligence that goes far toward our overall sense of well-being. But what about our emotions?

theories of intelligence, four yellow balls of emoticons, StudySmarter Four yellow emoticons, pixabay.com

Goleman's Theory of Emotional Intelligence

The term emotional intelligence was popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman in the 1990s. Emotions are powerful. They have the ability to cloud our thoughts and influence our behavior, and not always for the better. Sometimes we know better, but our emotions make us behave foolishly anyhow. We can be the smartest person in our class, but we might not end up being the most successful if we do not understand the emotional component of things.

Emotional intelligence is the domain of social intelligence. It encompasses our ability to recognize emotions in ourselves and others and our ability to self-soothe and manage the emotions of others. It involves our ability to correctly recognize abstract expressions of emotion, such as what we might find in a story, song, or piece of art.

Emotional intelligence is made up of four abilities. They are perceiving, understanding, managing, and using emotions.

Perceiving

Perceiving emotions deals with our ability to understand the emotions of others and to react appropriately to the given emotional situation. This also includes our ability to understand abstract emotions expressed through artistic mediums.

Understanding

This is a more interpersonal skill and involves understanding emotions within individual relationship dynamics. It concerns our ability to predict someone's emotional reaction based on our understanding of the individual and a given relationship.

Managing

This involves our ability to appropriately express emotions in a given relationship or situation and our capacity to manage the emotions of others.

Using

Using emotions refers to our ability to process our own emotions. It is how we creatively or effectively utilize our emotions and how we respond to emotionally charged situations.

While Goleman's theory has generated a lot of discussion and research, emotion nonetheless continues to be a difficult thing to quantify. Despite this, it seems logical that intelligence would encompass more than academics. Sternberg's triarchic theory of intelligence is another example of a theory that offers a more comprehensive vision of intelligence.

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

Like Gardner, Sternberg agreed that there was more than one simple factor involved in intelligence. His Triarchic Theory proposes three categories of intelligence: analytical, creative, and practical. Let's take a closer look at each of them below.

Analytical Intelligence

Analytical intelligence is what we understand as academic intelligence. This is something that can be measured by standardized testing.

Creative Intelligence

Creative intelligence deals with innovation and our ability to adapt. This can include artistic creations and capabilities and also our capacity to create new, better results from existing materials or systems.

Practical Intelligence

Practical intelligence encompasses our knowledge of everyday life. It is concerned with how we learn as a result of our experiences and apply that knowledge to our daily life.

Difference between Gardner's and Sternberg's Theories of Multiple Intelligences

Sternberg developed a three-part model of intelligence. He argued that practical intelligence plays just as important of a part in one's success as their academic ability. While both Sternberg and Gardener believed that intelligence was more than a simple g-factor, Gardner expanded the notion of intelligence far beyond one single element - or three elements! This led to the development of his multiple intelligence theory. Gardner continues to leave room for the addition of new intelligence categories as intelligence research continues.

Theories of Intelligence - Key takeaways

  • Spearman proposed a general intelligence factor called the g-factor.
  • Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences focused on eight factors; linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, and naturalistic.
  • Goleman's Theory of Emotional Intelligence is based on four abilities: perceiving, understanding, managing and using emotion.
  • Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Intelligence was based on three bits of intelligence: analytical, creative, and practical intelligence.

Frequently Asked Questions about Theories of Intelligence

The theories of intelligence in psychology are Spearman's g-factor, Goleman's theory of emotional intelligence, Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, and Sternberg's triarchic theory of intelligence. 

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences argued for a basic set of at least eight different bits of intelligence. They are linguistic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, and naturalist intelligence. 

Goleman's theory of emotional intelligence is made up of four abilities. They are perceiving, understanding, managing, and using emotions. 

While both Sternberg and Gardener believed that intelligence was more than a simple g-factor, but Gardner's and Sternberg's theories of multiple intelligences differed because Gardner expanded the notion of intelligence far beyond one single element - or three elements!

The triarchic theory is important because it proposes three categories of intelligence: analytical, creative, and practical intelligence. 

Final Theories of Intelligence Quiz

Question

Spearman believed that intelligence could be understood as one generalized unit called ________. 

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Answer

g-factor

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Question

True or False: G-factor can be observed in different areas of life apart from academic achievement. 

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Answer

True

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Question

Analytical, creative, and practical intelligence is part of which theory of intelligence? 

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Answer

Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Intelligence 

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Question

Which of the following is not part of Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory? 

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Answer

Creative Intelligence

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Question

Making lasting friendships is part of which of Gardner's intelligences?

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Answer

Interpersonal Intelligence

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Question

The ability to control one's body and to move with skill and accuracy is part of which of Gardner's intelligences? 

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Answer

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

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Question

Self-awareness and mindfulness are part of which of Gardner's intelligences? 

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Answer

Intrapersonal Intelligence

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Question

Which intelligence theory concerns itself with our ability to self-soothe and manage the emotions of others?

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Answer

Emotional Intelligence

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Question

According to the Theory of Emotional Intelligence, identifying the emotions of others and reacting appropriately is an example of which ability? 

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Answer

Perceiving Emotions

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Question

According to the Theory of Emotional Intelligence, creatively or effectively utilizing our emotions is an example of which ability?


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Answer

Using Emotions

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Question

This theory is concerned with how we are intelligent. 

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Answer

Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

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Question

Knowledge of everyday life is which part of Sternberg's Theory of Triarchic Intelligence? 

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Answer

Practical Intelligence

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Question

Which of Sternberg's Triarchic intelligences can be measured with standardized testing? 

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Answer

Analytical Intelligence

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Question

True or False: Emotional Intelligence can be reliably quantified. 

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Answer

False

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Question

A potential addition to Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences is ___________. 

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Answer

Existential Intelligence

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Question

Reading comprehension, learning new words, writing, and independent reading are part of which of Gardner's intelligences?

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Answer

Linguistic Intelligence

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Question

Reasoning, problem-solving, and logical debate skills are part of which of Gardner's intelligences?


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Answer

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

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Question

The ability to comprehend and utilize space within our environment is part of which of Gerdner's intelligences?


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Answer

Spatial Intelligence

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Question

Understanding music theory, our sense of rhythm, and recognizing musical patterns is a part of which of Gardner's intelligences?


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Answer

Musical Intelligence

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Question

The ability to cultivate different plants and take care of animals is an example of which of Gardner's intelligences?


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Answer

Naturalist Intelligence

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Question

Innovation and our ability to adapt s which part of Sternberg's Theory of Triarchic Intelligence?

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Answer

Creative Intelligence

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Question

According to the Theory of Emotional Intelligence, understanding and reacting appropriately to the given emotional situation is an example of which ability?

Show answer

Answer

Perceiving Emotions

Show question

Question

According to the Theory of Emotional Intelligence, creatively or effectively utilizing our emotions is an example of which ability?

Show answer

Answer

Using Emotions

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Question

Briefly describe how g-factor can be observed in other areas of life, like art. 

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Answer

Someone who is a skilled painter might also be a skilled sculptor and photographer. High ability in one art form is often generalized across multiple art forms.

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