We often hear the expression, “What a smart man!” We grew up in an educational system that exalts and rewards students’ IQ.
So instead of saying how smart that man is, it would be more correct to determine in what area one is smart.
Human intelligence has many facets that are directly affected by biological factors which follow us from birth. Today, science helps us recognize them, but it is up to each one of us to know how to take full advantage of them.
Genetics, as well as our personal experience, and our cultural environment decisively contribute as to which facets of our intelligence will develop and determine our life, and which ones will remain dormant.
Let’s begin from the fact that each human brain is different from the rest. On that premise, we can learn to identify our strong and weak points. Howard Gardner, professor of psychology at Harvard University, discovered the theory of multiple intelligences. Based on this theory, distinct webs of neurons are involved in speech development, in spatial perception, in the development of logic and analytical thought, in musical perception, etc.
The different facets of intelligence interact in a complementary fashion. We usually encourage two or three of these facets, regardless of whether one of them is prevalent in us. All of these are not isolated from one another and we all possess them; in fact, under the proper conditions, some of these facets of our intelligence may actually develop.
It is well known that genetic predisposition affects every aspect of our intelligence to a significant degree. Gardner, however, emphasizes the decisive role that our cultural and educational experience play in the development of each aspect of our intelligence as well as the level at which these may function. The more we train each one of them in a constructive way, the higher the level that particular facet of intelligence will reach.
There are eight different types of intelligence and depending on the particular kind, we have cultivated, it will play a decisive role in our life, on the type of education we will follow, and on the particular profession we will choose.
Great care should be taken that we may not ascribe negative labels on children through our educational system based on their academic achievement because children, by definition, are continuously evolving. It is important to offer them opportunities, so they may be able to develop those facets in which they are naturally inclined.
There are eight basic types of intelligence commonly recognized:
Logical - Mathematical thought
Verbal - Linguistic
Visual with good spatial awareness
Bodily - Kinesthetic
For each type of intelligence, I will also mention a few of the corresponding vocations.
In the Logical - Mathematical intelligence belong the engineers, accountants, economists, and those involved in computer science.
In the Verbal - Linguistic intelligence belong comedians, lawyers, journalists, writers, communications specialists.
In the Visual Intelligence, with good spatial awareness, belong graphic artists, architects, city-planning engineers.
In Musical Intelligence belong DJs, orchestra directors, sound engineers.
In Bodily - Kinesthetic belong actors, dancers, surgeons, firefighters.
In Interpersonal Intelligence belong psychologists, managers, nurses, merchants, political party leaders, priests.
In Intrapersonal Intelligence belong artists, philosophers, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, coaches.
In Naturalistic - Ecological intelligence belong forest rangers, zoologists, anthropologists, landscape architects.
It is important to keep in mind that the different types of intelligence evolve with time, experience, and work. By focusing on our natural talents, we can also develop those types of intelligence that are in a dormant state. In this way we can pursue a better, more productive future.
Spyros Metaxas, Psychiatrist/Psychotherapist