The different types of intelligence: Epic overview

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“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it’s stupid.”

One of the words I’ve always hated hearing is the word “stupid.” 

It might sound really naive, but I’ve always believed that no one is stupid — we’re just intelligent in different ways. 

As a (former) teacher, knowing psychologist Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences helped me figure out the different ways people learn and how I can best teach them. 

And you know what? 

Without fail, they would learn things faster when the information was presented to them in the way that suits them best!

Are you wondering which category you belong to? Well, you’re in the right place. 

In this article, I’ll show you the different types of intelligence. Hopefully, you’ll see which one is dominant in you! 

1) Linguistic intelligence

First up is my very own type of intelligence  – the wonderful world of words!

People with this kind of smart have the ability to convey thoughts and emotions with words. 

They are excellent communicators because they know just the words to use to get their message across clearly. 

If you find yourself spending hours reading, writing, or doing crossword puzzles, linguistic intelligence is probably your biggest strength. Welcome aboard, fellow word-lover! 

People in this group include public speakers, writers, journalists, teachers, lawyers, translators, and politicians.

On the other hand, if words don’t appeal to you and you prefer crunching numbers, you probably have…

2) Logistic-mathematical intelligence

If you find it exciting to work on problems, whether it’s with math equations or applying logic to everyday life, there’s a good chance your mind works best with logical intelligence. 

People who are good with numbers or use logic first in any given scenario excel when it comes to conceptualizing.

Being able to “see the whole picture” is a main aspect of this intelligence, and those who are capable of it don’t react to surface-level information alone. 

They take the time to analyze, calculate, quantify, and even hypothesize. 

You can easily find this type of intelligence in scientists, mathematicians, engineers, accountants, computer programmers, and systems analysts, to name a few.

3) Naturalistic intelligence

Are you an outdoorsy person? Do you love exploring flora and fauna and just being one with nature?

Then, you’re one of those who possess naturalistic intelligence. 

As the name implies, this type of intelligence gives a person the ability to understand the language of the natural world. 

They are generally considered to be nature lovers and choose to spend time in natural elements as much as possible. 

You know all those books and documentaries about plants and animals? We have people with naturalistic intelligence to thank for those!

Without them, we wouldn’t have as much information about nature as we have today. We wouldn’t have brave eco-warriors fighting for environmental causes and against animal cruelty. 

People with naturalistic intelligence typically work in the fields of biology, ecology, agriculture, landscape architecture, animal training, eco-conservation, and outdoor education.  

4) Visual-spatial intelligence

I once had a student who just loved spending time at the blocks station. And by time, I mean hours and hours with no breaks in between!

He could build towers, fancy bus stations, and other creative structures with just a heap of oddly-shaped wooden blocks. 

Very quickly I realized that he had the gift of spatial intelligence. 

People with this type of smart just have this unique ability to see things in various dimensions. 

They can recognize patterns, manipulate images, and understand the size and space of a given area in a way that people like me can’t. 

And they’re fantastic with maps—they’re definitely the ones you’d want to have with you on a trip to an unfamiliar place!

People with this type of intelligence include designers, sculptors, architects, surveyors, urban planners, graphic artists, interior decorators, photographers, pilots, and cartographers.  

All this talk about space leads us to another spatially-oriented type of intelligence…

5) Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence

You wouldn’t normally think of mind and body coordination as a way of navigating space, but it absolutely is! 

After all, when you’re hurtling through the air in a cartwheel, you’ve got to have a keen sense of balance and space. 

You have to be able to predict where you’ll land, or you’ll end up in the hospital!

That’s something people with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence don’t have to worry about. 

These are the people who seem superhuman — they can achieve amazing feats with their bodies, whether it’s through fitness, sports, or dance. 

They have excellent motor skills, a sharp sense of coordination, and a great deal of self-awareness. That’s why they’re in tune with their bodies and their surroundings. 

Some people are naturally blessed with these skills, but like many other types of intelligence, these traits can be developed. 

With enough training, discipline, and perseverance, you can take your bodily-kinesthetic skills to new heights and be as creative as you want to be!

Speaking of creativity…

6) Musical intelligence

Here’s another type of intelligence that gives people a creative edge. This kind of smart is responsible for our favorite songs and playlists that serve as the background to our best memories! 

It wouldn’t come as a surprise that those catchy or hauntingly beautiful tunes were created by people with musical intelligence. 

Obviously, people with musical intelligence have a greater sensitivity to sound in general and may even be able to hear some frequencies that others can’t.

They can recognize and produce different sounds, rhythms, and melodies. They also have a good sense of pitch, rhythm, and timbre. 

In some ways, this can be developed through music training, although there are individuals who have a certain knack for musical intelligence from a young age. 

Of course, those who are blessed with this type of intelligence would do well as musicians, singers, music teachers, music therapists, sound engineers, music producers, and music journalists. 

Now, while you’ve got a beautiful song playing in the background, imagine how awesome it would be talking to someone with…

7) Existential intelligence

Ah, existentialism. 

It’s the stuff of deep conversations by the beach or by a cozy fireplace with a glass of wine in your hand. 

Existentially-smart people are just the right people to talk to when you want something more than small talk.

Most people would shy away from the big questions of life, but not those with existential intelligence. 

On the contrary, the big ideas – philosophy, religion, and spirituality – are what they live for. 

They excel at digging a little deeper to search for a more significant meaning in everyday life. They question the realities of life and love contemplating our place in the universe. 

If that sounds like you, congratulations! You’re an old soul who knows what matters most in life!

In this fast-paced world, we need more people like you, someone who can help us find meaning and purpose in life and understand the human condition. 

You’ll be perfect as a philosopher, a spiritual leader, a psychologist or therapist, a life coach, an artist, or a writer. 

So go ahead – write your thoughts down, and maybe someday we’ll see you onstage as an inspirational speaker!

8) Intrapersonal intelligence

If you’re an existentially intelligent person, chances are you also have intrapersonal intelligence. 

These two types often go hand in hand, as they both involve self-awareness and a deep desire to understand the self. 

Do you often find yourself daydreaming? Taking a walk by yourself? Do you know exactly what you want and don’t want in life? 

If the answer is yes, you’ve got extraordinary intrapersonal intelligence. 

You know yourself really well, and you value your independence highly

And when you have to do something you don’t really feel like doing, you can motivate yourself and be your own cheerleader. 

You’ll also find this type of intelligence in introverted people, who prefer to spend more time inside their minds. 

Those with intrapersonal intelligence thrive in careers in writing, psychology, religion and spirituality, social work, and counseling. 

They can even be successful entrepreneurs since they know exactly what they want and how to get it!

9) Interpersonal intelligence

And now we get to the last category: the people-smart people! 

What does it mean to be people-smart? 

In a nutshell, it means being naturally good at sensing other people’s emotions. 

If you consider yourself to be empathetic and aware of other people’s feelings and body language, then interpersonal intelligence may be your strong suit. 

You’re the type that others enjoy being with, simply because you get along with others well and you know what it’s like to put people at ease. 

You thrive in collaborative environments and can communicate with others exceptionally. You’re the perfect teammate! 

That’s why the ideal jobs for you would be those that involve interacting with others. These are careers like human resources, counseling, management, public relations, teaching, social work, and other people-oriented jobs. 

Final thoughts

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the types of intelligence, it’s that each person’s mind is unique

And that’s not all – just because you’re stronger in one area doesn’t mean you’re not smart in the others. I want to stress that we have all of these kinds of intelligence inside us; they’re just developed at different levels. 

That said, knowing the different types of intelligence can help us understand ourselves and others better. It can help us appreciate one another’s gifts and celebrate our diversity.  

So, don’t be shy and be yourself. Go forward knowing you have something to contribute with your own unique set of skills!  

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Roselle Umlas

I am a freelance writer with a lifelong interest in helping people become more reflective and self-aware so that they can communicate better and enjoy meaningful relationships.

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