The Seven Intelligences

21/11/2012 10:19 | Updated 25 January 2016

A lot has been written about learning styles, a testimony to the fact that the subject is not only fascinating but also useful: if we understand what makes people 'tick', and how they retain information, we have a chance to present said information in a more engaging way - what of course derives from that is that it's also easier to then influence people, a fact marketers, sales executives and advertising people know all too well.

A quick look at the advertising world clearly shows that ads attempt to engage the recipient at an emotional and mental level, suggesting that a certain product will bring benefits that go beyond the mere function of that product: but rather than addressing how the media may cleverly manipulate people through their basic needs and desires (often lodged at a subconscious level), I would like to explore the seven intelligences.

The seven intelligences are described by Gardner in his book, 'Frames of Mind' (1983); he described three further 'candidate' intelligences in his book 'Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century' (1999). Gardner theory has been criticised because of the lack of empirical evidence and because studies have generally found high correlations between types of intelligence: it seems to me though than rather than 'general intelligence', people do have a preferred learning style/intelligence, that can be a mix of two or more prevalent abilities. We all have the seven intelligences to a degree, but each individual seems to be better skilled in selected abilities. The seven intelligences are:

Linguistic intelligence
Characterised by the ability to use and memorise words with ease; facility in learning foreign languages; good at reading and writing, telling stories. Possible career path: journalist, writer, lecturer, poet.

Logical-mathematical intelligence
Ability to solve problems skilfully and quickly; excels in logic, abstraction, numbers and critical thinking. Possible career path: scientist, accountant, 'logician'.

Musical intelligence
Excels with rhythm, tone, composing music, singing. It's also the ability to 'attune' oneself to the surroundings and those around them. Possible career path: composer, musician, singer, therapist.

Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence
It's the ability to handle objects and use their body to resolve situations: it's the intelligence associated with touch, and such people are usually good at physical activities. Possible career path: surgeon, artist, mechanic, builder, athlete.

Spatial intelligence
It's the ability to create mental representations of space and bring that vision into fruition. Possible career path: architects, engineers, designers, sculptors.

Interpersonal intelligence
'Emotional intelligence': the ability to empathize with others and understand their desires and what motivates them. Possible career path: politician, salesperson, teacher, psychotherapist.

Intrapersonal intelligence
Introspective and self-reflective ability, characterised by a deep knowledge of the self: a gift for introspection and the ability to assess own strengths/weaknesses. Possible career path: philosopher, writer, counsellors.

As I said it's probably correct to say that no individual is gifted with only one kind of intelligence; rather a mix of abilities, where one that is stronger. It's also a matter of cultivating such abilities: personally I think this is where the current school system shows a distinct weakness. It's a system that is based on uniformity and still largely on principles originating from the XIX century, rather than cultivating each individual's gifts.
It's easy to object that creating a system centred on the individual is impractical; yet, it's a necessity, not a luxury, if we want to create a better, happier, richer society where each person is valued and important.