Howard Gardner concedes that a general factor may very well exist in intelligence, but he questions its usefulness in explaining people's performance in particular situations. In his view, children and adults have at least eight distinctly different abilities or multiple intelligences. The table below lists and describes Gardner's multiple intelligences and provides examples of relevant behaviors for each type of intelligence.

Type of Intelligencea Examples of Relevant Behaviors
Linguistic Intelligence
Ability to use language effectively
  • Making persuasive arguments
  • Writing poetry
  • Identifying subtle nuances in word meanings
Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Ability to reason logically, especially in mathematics and science
  • Solving mathematical problems quickly
  • Generating mathematical proofs
  • Formulating and testing hypotheses about observed phenomenab
Spatial Intelligence
Ability to notice details of what one sees and to imagine and manipulate visual objects in one's mind
  • Conjuring up mental images
  • Drawing a visual likeness of an object
  • Making fine discriminations among very similar objects
Musical Intelligence
Ability to create, comprehend, and appreciate music
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Composing a musical work
  • Showing a keen awareness of the underlying structure of music
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
Ability to use one's body skillfully
  • Dancing
  • Playing basketball
  • Performing pantomime
Interpersonal Intelligence
Ability to notice subtle aspects of other people's behaviors
  • Correctly perceiving another's mood
  • Detecting another's underlying intentions and desires
  • Using knowledge of others to influence their thoughts and behaviors
Intrapersonal Intelligence
Awareness of one's own feelings, motives, and desires
  • Discriminating among such similar emotions as sadness and regret
  • Identifying the motives guiding one's own behavior
  • Using self-knowledge to relate more effectively with others
Naturalist Intelligence
Ability to recognize patterns in nature and differences among natural objects and life-forms
  • Identifying members of particular plant or animal species
  • Classifying natural forms (e.g., rocks, types of mountains)
  • Applying one's knowledge of nature in such activities as farming, landscaping, or animal training

Sources: Gardner, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2000a; Gardner & Hatch, 1990.

aGardner has also suggested the possibility of an existential intelligence dedicated to philosophical and spiritual issues, but he acknowledges that evidence is weaker for it than for the eight intelligences described here.

bThis example may remind you of Piaget's theory of cognitive development. Many of the stage-relevant characteristics that Piaget described fall within the realm of logical-mathematical intelligence.