Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. According to Gardner, intelligence tests were too narrow in analyzing a person’s intellectual abilities. He developed the theory of multiple intelligences to describe varying degrees of abilities in a range of different areas. Gardner supported his theory by pointing out certain qualities in retarded or autistic individuals that are present as well as certain abilities that are lost or rendered after brain damage while others are unaffected.
Gardner divides intelligence into eight types: verbal, mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Verbal skills refer to one’s ability to use language. Mathematical skills refer to one’s ability to perform mathematical operations. Spatial skills are one’s ability to visualize a space and to navigate within an area. Bodily-kinesthetic skills refer to one’s ability to control bodily motions and to handle objects. Musical skills refer to one’s ability to detect and create pitch, melody, rhythm, and tone. Interpersonal skills refer to one’s ability to interact with others, understand others, and understand behavior. Intrapersonal skills refer to one’s ability to understand one’s self and knowing who you are, knowing what you can do, and knowing what you want to do. Naturalistic skills refer to one’s ability to identify and classify patterns and relationships in nature.
Robert J. Steinberg agreed with the idea of multiple intelligences; however, he only identified three main types: analytical, creative, and practical. Rather than dividing intelligence into specific skills like Gardner, Steinberg categorized intelligence according to an individual’s approach to dealing with changes in his triarchic theory of intelligence.
Analytical intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to dissect problems and propose possible solutions. The basic units of analytical intelligence are divided into components, or information processing units. These components are the ability to obtain or collect information; to remember or get information; to transfer information; to plan, make decisions, and solve problems; and to carry out thoughts.
Creative intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to deal with a new problem or situation by means of previous experiences and skills. It is the ability to perform a certain task with regard to familiarity through creativity, intuition, and a study of the arts. If a problem is similar to another problem, the response may be almost automatic. If the problem is different, then a unique perspective may be developed to explain the situation.
Practical intelligence refers to an individual’s ability to adapt in the everyday world. Practical intelligence is not based on information you are taught in school but rather based on life experiences on how to deal with certain situations. In other words, practical intelligence refers to the ability to identify what needs to be done and then implementing the necessary action.
While Gardner’s approach to multiple intelligence is based upon individual skills, Sternberg’s approach is based upon collaborations of experiences and adaptations. While Sternberg recognized individual skills, he also recognized that there are social and conditional factors when classifying intelligence.