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Seven different ways of determining intelligence
Find out the multiple ways we classify and ascertain what constitutes intelligence.
- Between IQ, Triarchic Theories of intelligence and a whole host of other methods, determining intelligence remains a thrilling topic of inquiry.
- Developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner, originally put forth 7 different types of intelligence which still remain as popular classifications today.
- The science around multiple intelligences is not conclusive, but have proven helpful to some in the educational system.
Our greatest endowment is our intelligence. This intangible, abstract and hard to pin down concept is responsible for everything we do. Our unique human intellect is what has set us apart from our animal forebears and given us dominion and superiority over the planet. Yet, for being such smart primates we still don't have much of a consensus on how to determine intelligence.
The goal posts of brainpower have changed throughout time. We're beginning to realize that there are different modes of how to think and act that are equally valid. Some people believe that the IQ is one of the best ways to showcase how you think. Other pockets of academia believe in Robert Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Intelligence, which breaks things down into analytic, creative, and practical thinking patterns.
In 1983, Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist, put forth a new classification system that broke things down into 7 different types of intelligence. He'd later go on to add a few more throughout the years. These included naturalistic intelligence, existential and teaching-pedagogical which he considered adding when speaking with Big Think in 2016. While experimental evidence is sparse within this system, many have found it as a helpful litmus test to get a grasp on the way different people think.
Gardner’s original seven types of intelligence
US Howard Gardner poses on the stage after receiving the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences during the Prince of Asturias awards ceremony on October 21, 2011 in Oviedo. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA
Gardner argued that it's of an evolutionary benefit for people to possess different sets of skills and talents. This common sense fact then translates into different modes of intelligence. The following is a brief overview of each:
- Linguistic: ability to speak and write well.
- Logic-mathematical: ability to use logic and mathematical skills to solve problems
- Spatial: ability to think and reason about objects in three dimensions
- Musical: ability to perform and enjoy music
- Kinesthetic (body: ability to move the body in sports, dance, or other physical activities
- Interpersonal: ability to understand and interact effectively with others
- Intrapersonal: ability to have insight into the self
The idea of multiple intelligences has influenced some in the field of education. For example, teachers might try to hone a child's spatial tendencies and steer them towards being an architect. On the other hand, Gardner also warned that these types of intelligences shouldn't be a limiting factor to how a student is taught. He opposes the idea that there should be a labeling of types of learners. He stated that intelligence is "a biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture."
If anything, this system gives learners the power to mix and mingle within the different modalities of thought. With this list we'll be able to build upon our strengths and remedy our weaknesses.
Linguistic Intelligence"Harry Potter And The Cursed Child" Opening DayNEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: J.K. Rowling poses at 'Harry Potter and The Cursed Child parts 1 & 2' on Broadway Opening Night at The Lyric Theatre on April 22, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
Linguistic intelligence is the ability to have a wide ranging grasp over words and the use of language in order to express and understand abstract concepts and other complex meanings. This type of intelligence allows us to be able to understand the fundamentals of grammar and speech, writing and communication.
Linguistic intelligence is an absolute necessity for base human competence. The use of a highly developed linguistic intelligence is evident within the ranks of novelists, public speakers and poets.
Stephen Hawking experiencing weightlessness
Logical-mathematical intelligence deals in the domain of quantity, numerics, logical operations and the whole range of abstract mathematics concepts. Logical intellect is a must-have for mathematicians, physicists and computer scientists. They derive meaning from sequential reasoning and abstract patterns.
The quick insight into logical tasks gives them the ability to be very well organized and disciplined. It follows that the analytical part of the brain is given much more of a focus on than the creative aspect.
Spatial intelligenceSpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Rocket
SANTA BARBARA, CA - OCTOBER 07: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (R) separates from the space craft (L) behind the rocket trail and under the stars after launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying the SAOCOM 1A and ITASAT 1 satellites, as seen on October 7, 2018 near Santa Barbara, California. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in visual terms within areas of two and three dimensions. Core skills that come into play include: spatial reasoning, image manipulation, advanced perception, artistic skills and mental imagery.
Paired with an active imagination, spatial intelligence spills over into many disciplines. Some of these include sculptors, painters, architects and even pilots. This type of intelligence is also an absolute necessity to the creation of new imagery which a great deal of people would have a hard time visualizing.
Prince, Purple Rain c/o Paramount Pictures
Musical intelligence is the ability to recognize differences in pitch, timbre, tone, and rhythm within a musical composition. The vast soundscape becomes a kind of playground for those musically attuned. They're able to demonstrate a connection between the varied sounds, which allows them to reflect, reproduce and even create their own music.
This type of intelligence is mastered by musicians, composers and listeners who have a fine ear to the nuisances of sound.
Kinesthetic intelligenceDenver Nuggets v Los Angeles LakersSAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up before a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets at Valley View Casino Center on September 30, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to manipulate exterior objects with the use of your body. A person with this type of intelligence has an incredible mind-body sense with excellent coordination. Athletes, surgeons and skilled laborers have developed kinesthetic abilities.
Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, addresses the Nordic Business Forum business seminar in Helsinki, Finland on September 27, 2018. (Photo by Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva / AFP) / Finland OUT
Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to interact with other people and effectively understand them. A whole host of both verbal and nonverbal cues of communication are needed to have a successful and meaningful interaction.
Things like being sensitive to other people's moods and temperaments allow someone the ability to entertain multiple perspectives. Good politicians, teachers and actors all display this kind of intelligence.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple event on September 12, 2018, in Cupertino, California. - NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images
Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability – as the Ancient Greek aphorism would say to "Know thyself." People that are able to understand and control one's thoughts and feelings can use this knowledge in directing their life. This ability is evident in philosophers, leaders and entrepreneurs. They rarely deceive themselves and are able to stay self-motivated in whatever it is they're interested in.
- Big Think Interview With Howard Gardner - Big Think ›
- What Is Intelligence? - Big Think ›
- Intelligence Isn't Black-and-White: There Are 8 Different Kinds ›
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How can we promote the creation of new neurons - and why is it so important?
- Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth.
- After birth, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain: the olfactory bulb (which is responsible for our sense of smell) and the hippocampus (which is responsible for memory, spatial navigation, and emotional processing).
- Research from the 1960s proves creating new neurons as adults is possible, and modern-day research explains how (and why) we should promote new neuron growth.
Two parts of the brain can continue growing through neurogenesis<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkyMzk2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTAwODc1MH0.4GDLlZmkwuD0-pJ0s0UWcUoYXMy95a-AM61a_QAlAeA/img.jpg?width=980" id="2e77e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4e23499fdf3b2185533979083fd02db7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="brain made of twigs and plants concept of neurogenesis" />
Neurogenesis is still possible well into adulthood in two very important parts of the human brain.
Image by EtiAmmos on Shutterstock<p>Although most people are aware that aging or bad habits such as heavy alcohol use can contribute to the deterioration of our brains, not many of us give thought to how we can generate new brain cells.</p><p>Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth. </p><p><strong>After birth, however, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain:</strong></p><ul><li>The olfactory bulb, which is a structure of the forebrain that's responsible for our sense of smell. </li><li>The hippocampus, which is a structure of the brain located within the temporal lobe (just above your ears) - this area is important for learning, memory, regulation, of emotions and spatial navigation. </li></ul><p>Of course, when this information first came to light <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13860748" target="_blank">back in the 1960s</a>, the next natural question was: How do we promote neurogenesis in those areas where it's still possible? </p><p>Researchers today believe there are activities you can do (some of them may be things you already do on a daily basis) that can promote neurogenesis in your brain. </p><p><strong>Why is it important to promote the growth of new neurons in adulthood?</strong></p><p>We produce an estimated 700 million neurons per day in the hippocampus - this means by the time we reach the age of 50, we will have exchanged the neurons we were born within that area of the brain with new (adult-generated) neurons. </p><p>If we don't promote this exchange with the growth of new neurons, we may block certain abilities these new neurons help us with (such as keeping our memory sharp, for example). </p>
4 ways to promote neurogenesis in your brain<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkyMzk2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTE3NjczNH0.qyzh_AIUPKfaQIa1QEq4yTNCAAK9nYkH3HFV9vWXwww/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C104&height=700" id="64a68" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ee1307fe2dd61ae425552da56db3c5ff" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="child playing trumpet concept of learning a new instrument neurogenesis" />
Learning a new instrument helps promote neurogenesis.
Photo by DenisProduction.com on Shutterstock<p><strong>Intermittent fasting</strong></p><p><a href="https://law.stanford.edu/2015/01/09/lawandbiosciences-2015-01-09-intermittent-fasting-try-this-at-home-for-brain-health/" target="_blank">A 2015 Stanford study</a> examined the link between <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-to-do-intermittent-fasting#section1" target="_blank">intermittent fasting</a> and neurogenesis. Calorie restriction and fasting can not only increase synaptic plasticity and promote neuron growth but it can also decrease your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and boost cognitive function. </p><p><u>Two of the most common ways you can intermittently fast are: </u></p><ul><li>16 hours per day every day - this is a method where you are able to eat for an 8 hour period of the day and fast for 16 hours of the day. Many people begin their "fast" after dinner, pushing their morning meal far enough towards lunch that most of their "off" eating time happens while they are asleep anyways. </li></ul><ul><li>24 hours every week - this is a method where once a week you fast for an entire day. Some people prefer this method because the rest of the week can resume as normal - but for many, this is a difficult way to fast. </li></ul><p><strong>Traveling to new places</strong></p><p>While traveling is something many of us enjoy — scenic routes and new fun experiences — these things also promote neurogenesis while we're on vacation. <a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ct-xpm-2014-01-28-sc-trav-0128-travel-mechanic-20140128-story.html" target="_blank">Paul Nussbaum</a>, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, explains that the mental benefits of traveling are very clear.<br></p><p><em>"When you expose your brain to an environment that's novel and complex or new and difficult, the brain literally reacts. Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites (dangling extensions) which grow the brain's capacity." </em></p><p><strong>Learning a new instrument</strong></p><p>The mental health benefits of music have long been studied, but did you know that learning a new instrument can promote new neuron growth? </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996135/" target="_blank">this 2010 study</a>, learning to play a new musical instrument is an intense, multisensory motor experience that requires that acquisition and maintenance of skills over your entire lifetime - which of course, promotes the new formation of new neural networks. </p><p>When is the best time to begin learning a new instrument? Childhood, of course. </p><p><em>"Learning to play a new musical instrument in childhood can result in long-lasting changes in brain organization," </em>according to the study mentioned above. </p><p>While learning an instrument in adulthood will also promote neurogenesis, children who began training with a musical instrument before the age of 7 have shown that they have a significantly larger corpus callosum (the area of the brain the allows communication between the two hemispheres of the brain) than many adults. </p><p><strong>Reading novels</strong></p><p>A study from <a href="http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-novel-look-at-how-stories-may-change.html" target="_blank">Emory University</a> showed there was an increase in ongoing connectivity in the brains of participants after reading the same (fiction) novel. </p><p>In this study, enhanced brain activity was observed in the region that control physical sensations and movement. Reading a novel, according to lead researcher Gregory Berns, can transport you into the body of the protagonist. </p><p>This ability to shift into another mental state is a vital skill that promotes healthy neurogenesis in those areas of the brain. </p>
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
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