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Jaime Kaufhold



Lucky you!  You’ve probably been subject, at some point in your life, to a standard test of Intelligence Quotient (or I.Q.). This sort of test is, generally speaking, a measure of the ratio between your mental age to your chronological age.


For the past 20 years, scientists have argued that these kinds of standardized tests overly favor people with logical and mathematical abilities, even as they disregard the contributions made to society by people with, say, artistic, linguistic, musical, or interpersonal abilities. 

Since people are complex and multi-dimensional, these (Harvard) scientists argue, so should be measures of their intelligence. [1]


After many years of research, here are the varieties of intelligence that these smartypants discovered.  Everyone is measured in terms of where they fall on the spectrum from zero to hero in each category.

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence

Those linguistic ninjas who score high in verbal-linguistic intelligence are highly sensitive to the sound, meaning, and order (or syntax) of words.  They love to talk, listen, read and write, and often become literary luminaries, foreign language translators or public speakers.

If this is an area where you could improve your knowledge and skills, a good task to start with is to write a poem full of intense imagery and unique wordplay and recite it during an open mic night at your local coffee shop or alehouse. Another activity to try might be to read up on current events and engage a friend in a lively debate.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

This is the category of intelligence most widely measured by the old school of IQ tests.  People who score high on this scale tend to have strong abilities in (surprise!) mathematics, and love to solve problems in the context of other complex systems.  They are often much more logical than emotional, and think things through in a sequential pattern.


If you have a high logical-mathematical intelligence, you might be interested in a career in Information Technology, Software Engineering, or a science such as Biology.

If you tend to have many a dull moment when attempting to think logically or balance your checking account, you could start to work on puzzles, break ciphers or solve riddles–or, if you feel brave, try to take a gadget apart, figure out how it works, and then put it back together again.

Musical-Rhythmic Intelligence

These guys are everyone’s faves, because they are able better than most to understand and create music.  They are our singers and instrument players, our musicians, composers, and dancers.


If you want to boost your musical intelligence, get yourself a hand drum and learn to tap out a regular beat! You can also try dancing around (when no one is looking, if you’re shy) to your favorite song or band.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Do you know what fighter pilots and graphic designers have in common?  They both must have strong scores in this field to perform adeptly at their jobs.  Military Flight Aptitude tests measure one’s ability to map 2-D images in 3-D space.  People with high visual-spatial intelligence have highly-tuned depth perception and a honed talent for imagining layouts based on data points or images.


To enhance your visual-spatial skills, you can get into arts like sculpture, collage or painting, or you could create a flowchart of how a project should turn out for work.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

People with this brand of IQ love to use their bodies for athletics, creative expression or entertainment, and often become dancers or skilled athletes.


To enhance your kinesthetic intelligence, get a move on!  Learn to dribble a soccer or basketball, take a ballet or hiphop dance class, or just get out on the dance floor to express yourself.

Interpersonal Intelligence

These folks are natural-born diplomats.  They are sensitive the needs of other people, and are very good at negotiation to find that compromise that will work for everyone concerned.  Interpersonals are very perceptive of what motivates others–their moods, desires and ambitions.  They are excellent communicators and excellent listeners who are known for driving a tough bargain and who often become leaders in the business world, therapists or politicians.


To build mastery in your interpersonal skill set, you can teach a friend a new skill, engage with others in conversations and debates, or coach a junior sports team.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

Those who score well on the intrapersonal scale are adroit at perceiving and understanding their own emotions, values, and philosophy of life.  They know how to set goals and maintain the discipline it takes to achieve them, by being accountable only to themselves.  These introverts are deep thinkers and seekers after solitude who often become spiritual leaders, writers, or inventors.


You can reach higher levels of intrapersonal intelligence all by yourself, by writing in a journal, practicing mindfulness, or reading books of poetry or philosophy.

Naturalist Intelligence

These are the earth mamas and papas of our world, the people who know the names of flowers and birds.  They love to be out in nature, hiking, climbing mountains, or working on projects to clean up beautiful places that have been left a mess by less fastidious visitors.  These are the people who see patterns and connections throughout the universe, and have a sort of innate spirituality, the product of their intimacy with the natural world. They make excellent Geologists, Zoologists, Ecologists, or members of the forestry service.


There–isn’t it a relief to know you can still be smart, no matter how frazzled you become in the face of a differential equation?  Do you feel better about yourself, now that you know there are no less than eight different kinds of intelligence, and we all have talents and abilities at different levels, in different areas?


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Posted 7:01 PM

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