Your aptitude or 'multiple intelligences' is different from your behaviour preference as it describes what you are really interested in, rather than how you may behave, and helps you define what you really want out of your personal life and career.
We are happiest and most successful when we learn, develop, and work in ways that make best use of our natural make-up. As such the 'multiple intelligences' indicator helps you to focus on the sorts of learning and work that will be most fulfilling and rewarding for you.
Again, I’ll enlist the help of an expert in the field - Dr. Howard Gardner, psychologist and professor of education at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Through his extensive research on ‘everyday’ people, he developed the theory of multiple intelligences that proposes 9 different intelligences (originally he only defined 7, but added 2 more after further research).
Gardner claims that all people have all intelligences but in varying amounts, such that each person has a unique intellectual make-up. These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together, can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened.
So what are the 9 multiple intelligences? They are described below. As you read through each one, think about your own preferences, interests, skills and abilities and see whether there is any particular intelligence (may be several) that apply to you.
1. Linguistic (Verbal) Intelligence
Well-developed verbal skills including reading, speaking, writing and self-expression. Interested in sounds and the meanings/ rhythms of words. Ability to learn new languages and use rhetoric. Likes learning new skills by reading, listening and writing.
Typical career interests and hobbies include writer, editor, poet, journalist, teacher, lawyer, politician, actor, commentator, etc.
2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Ability to think conceptually, abstractly and logically. Good with numbers, mental maths, logic puzzles, identifying patterns and decision-making, and can analyze problems logically. Likes learning through numbers and logic.
Typical career interests and hobbies include scientist, engineer, accountant, mathematician, accountant, statistician, trades person, computer programmer, homemaker, etc.
3. Musical Intelligence
Involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of music. Capacity to recognise pitch, tone and rhythm. Enjoys singing, playing an instrument, listening to/ analyzing the make-up of music, and is sensitive to the mood of music. Likes learning through music, sounds and rhythms.
Typical career interests and hobbies include musician, disc jockey, singer, composer, music teacher, instrument maker, choir, conductor, music critic, music collector, composer, etc.
4. Spatial (Visual) Intelligence
Capacity to think in images and pictures. Visualize, interpret and graphically represent visual or spatial ideas. Includes abilities in art, imagination, creativity, inventiveness and ingenuity. Use of colour, line, shape, form and space. Likes learning through pictures, shapes and images.
Typical career interests and hobbies include sculptor, artist, inventor, architect, mechanic, engineer, illustrator, photographer, interior decorator, clothing designer, builder, architect, art critic, etc.
5. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
Ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements and use the body and tools to take effective action. Includes sports, agility, dance, entertainment, athleticism, strength and any skills that involve the use of your hands (like drafting, crafting, woodworking, precision work, etc.). Likes learning by hands-on experience, movement, touch and feel.
Typical career interests and hobbies include sportsman, athlete, PE teacher, dancer, actor, firefighter, mechanic, trainer, contractor, craftsperson, coach, salesperson, sports analyst, dance critic, sculptor, choreographer, actor, etc.
6. Interpersonal Intelligence
Ability to understand and appreciate people, including communication, empathy, helping and working effectively with others, etc. ability to build relationships and deal effectively with others. Includes talents such as persuasion, selling, networking, charm, making others feel comfortable, managing a team, conflict management, teamwork, cooperation, listening, charisma, and leadership. Likes learning through communication, human contact and teamwork.
Typical career interests and hobbies include counsellor, salesperson, politician, business person, minister, manager, social worker, doctor, nurse, therapist, teacher, sociologist, psychologist, psychotherapist, consultant, etc.
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence
Ability to deal effectively with yourself and your emotions. This includes abilities such as knowing yourself, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, self-confidence, self-control, adaptability and flexibility to change, work ethic, commitment, initiative, persistence, empathy, political awareness, integrity, honesty, time management and overall character. Likes learning through self-reflection and self-discovery.
Typical career interests and hobbies include researcher, theorist, philosopher, planner, small business owner, psychologist, artist, clergy, etc.
8. Naturalist Intelligence
Ability to identify and recognise patterns and relationships in natural science. Recognise own connection to nature, apply science theory to life, recognise and classify plants, minerals, animals, etc. Likes learning through the outdoors, animals and field trips.
Typical career interests and hobbies include scientist, naturalist, landscape architect, vet, biology teacher, botanist, horticulturalist, park ranger, conservationist, etc.
9. Existential Intelligence
Sensitivity, curiosity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here. Enjoys reflective and deep thinking and design of abstract theories. Likes learning in the context of where humankind stands in the "big picture" of existence.
Typical career interests and hobbies include scientist, philosopher, theologian, politician, etc.
What makes YOU tick?
If you aren’t sure about your multiple intelligences, then try using the Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences Test tool available in the ToolBOX, as part of the FREE Life Planning Workbook. This tool gets you to respond to a series of statements and from your responses, works out the best intelligence profile that suits you.
You are naturally going to do better at a skill if you have a natural intelligence in that area. For example, if you have a high musical intelligence, you’ll probably find learning a new musical instrument a lot easier than other people, and you probably really enjoy this challenge as well.
Multiple intelligences are also useful in helping you work out what you don’t like or what you’re not naturally good at.
For example, when I dream in my sleep, I often dream of being super-athletic. I can out-run everyone, do amazing gymnastics, not to mention the Kung-Fu scenes! The reality is though I have a relatively low Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence [I’m more of a logical-mathematical person, with linguistic tendencies too], so this is one dream that will probably stay where it is – in my sleep! This is not to say that I can’t improve my level of fitness or learn a new hands-on skill, but I’ll probably never be brilliant at it.
So the important thing here is to use the Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligences test to differentiate real skill/ ability areas from dream skills and abilities, and keep this in perspective when establishing target goals and time-frames for achieving them.
You may also notice some similarities between your multiple intelligences and your behaviour profile. ‘Owls’ for example will often have a high logical/ mathematical intelligence, ‘Doves’ will have intrapersonal intelligence and ‘Peacocks’, interpersonal intelligence. ‘Eagles’ are often bodily/ kinesthetic. Of course, you’re likely to have more than one strong intelligence in your profile.
Or perhaps you can tell us about YOU and help others understand who they are…