Gardner’s Eight Intelligences

Cite this article as: Praveen Shrestha, "Gardner’s Eight Intelligences," in Psychestudy, November 18, 2017,

Intelligence was first categorized into different domains by the developmental psychologist Howard Gardner. In his 1983 book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner first theorized the Multiple-Intelligences Theory. Since then, it has gone on to be one of the primary models of research on the subject matter.

The cognitive wiring of human brain is different from one person to another, which equips human beings with wide range of cognitive abilities. According to Gardner, there is no absolute way to measure human intelligence. His theory further suggests that someone could be terrible at math, but be exceptional in another field, like learning different languages.

Howard Gardner

Gardner’s framing of intelligence does debunk the traditional concept of intelligence, which only categorized intelligence as a single cognitive ability. As Gardner would call, intelligence even today by less educated group of people is considered as just, Logical-Mathematical Intelligence.

Gardner’s theory has broadened the understanding of intelligence, and thus broadening our understanding of human brain.

Here are 9 (two of them were added later to the original 7) different types or modals of Intelligence, according to Howard Gardner.


Some people are mathematically smart, while other people are extremely good with music. Musical-smart are considered as gifted ones in the society, and they can be often seen drumming, humming, etc. They are constantly involved in activities that demonstrate a melodic inclination, and they are able to reproduce, generate, and detect sounds better than us normal folks. Jimi Hendrix for one can be considered a musically-intelligent persona.


Do you remember that classmate who answered every single math question your teacher asked? Of course you do. Then there were those who could reason their way to everything. As much as you would hate to agree, according to Gardner, those peers of yours can be categorized as Logical-Mathematically Intelligent, also known as number or reasoning smart.

This sort of intelligence allows a person to recognize patterns, demonstrate reasoning skills and generate abstract thoughts. This allows a person to be good in puzzles, strategy games, arithmetic problems and similar things. Careers chosen by these people are usually scientists, mathematicians and detectives. Fluid intelligence and General intelligence is often closely linked to Logical-Mathematical Intelligence.


Another term for Interpersonal Intelligence is People Smart. People smart individuals can get along, interact and communicate well with just about anyone. This sort of intelligence allows a person to properly understand verbal and non-verbal means of communications. Also, they are able to understand different moods of people, and consider other people’s point of view.

In other words, interpersonally Intelligent are able to walk in another person’s shoes. This type of intelligence is mostly seen among politicians, teachers, social workers, and those who are in leadership roles.


People with this kind of intelligence have exceptional mind-body coordination. They are able to do exactly what they want with your body. Their impeccable sense of timing allows them to stay graceful and coordinated. You probably remember that peer of yours who always seemed to move effortlessly on the dance floor, while you didn’t know what you were doing with your two right feet. That’s an amazing example of body-smart people.

Body-smart people tend to do in careers where they require using their mind-body coordination effortless. For instance: athletes, dancers, surgeons, and so on.


graphic of man shouting from microphone

Linguistic intelligence involves the human capacity to think and use words. It covers all areas that enable a person to express complex emotions and expressions with the use of language. A person’s enjoyment of storytelling, reading, writing, and crosswords is a sign of linguistic intelligence. The extensive book reader in your 10th grade, whom you always labeled as a nerd, is probably a person with higher linguistic intelligence.

Careers followed by these folks are usually poets, novelists, journalists and people in jobs that need to make high use of their language skills. JK Rowling is a fantastic novelist with high linguistic intelligence.


Contrary to Inter-Personal Intelligence, which allows a person to understand others, Intra-Personal Intelligence refers to the ability of understanding oneself. These people are often found to be lost in thoughts, and they are constantly contemplating and analyzing themselves. Self-Smart is the more common term used for this. Self-smart people tend to be aware about their emotions, self-motivated, and also little sigh when dealing with people.

Careers followed by most self-smart people are philosophers, writers, spiritual leaders, and psychologists.


man with rubic's cube in the brain

Spatial intelligence leads a person to be highly creative. The general definition of this sort of intelligence is regarded as being able to visualize anything in three dimensions. Core abilities cover dynamic imagination, artistic and graphic skills, and spatial reasoning, among similar other feats.

People with spatial intelligence are found to be daydreaming, drawing, solving puzzles and mazes at young age. This could lead to creative careers such as being architects, pilots, painters, sculptors, and so on.


Naturalistic intelligence was added later to the original 7 in 1995, It refers to our sensitivity towards the different features of nature such as animals, plants, cloud formations, mountains, rock configurations and similar other things.There are people among us who can just recognize every form for flora and fauna and get along remarkably well with animals too. I think it’s safe to say that those folks are equipped with Naturalistic intelligence.

This form of intelligence was a great value in the past. Back in the day, when humans were dependent on skills like hunting, farming etc, the ones with higher Naturalistic Intelligence had higher chances of survival. Tarzan for one can be considered a Nature-Smart.


Existential Intelligence was also added later after 1999. It enables a person to contemplate about serious questions about life and death, while rest just go on with their daily lives without giving much thought to it. Not only these people explore questions like why people are born, what is the purpose of life, and what happens after death, they are also able to tackle these questions with different appreciable thoughts.

This sort of intelligence is also called Moral or Spiritual Intelligence. Philosophers are prime examples of people with Existential intelligence.


These 9 domains cover pretty much every aspect of intelligence. A person with high intelligence in a particular domain could be completely dumb in other areas. But, it’s not uncommon for an individual to have high intelligence in more than one domain. Still, it’s pretty rare for an individual to be intelligent in all areas.

Cite this article as: Praveen Shrestha, "Gardner’s Eight Intelligences," in Psychestudy, November 18, 2017,