What are the Different Theories of Multiple Intelligence?
The development of intelligence tests put people's intelligence in a spectrum ranging from the extremely intelligent to the extremely un-intelligent. However, there are some cases in which people whom most think are above-average or below-average get classified the opposite way. Because of this, intelligence tests were redefined and restructured to include or exclude some content areas. For example, once can be good at mathematics, but not in verbal ability. However, there are still some exceptional skills and talents that also require cognition that are not being measured by intelligence tests, like visual and performance arts. This limitation of current intelligence tests prompted many psychologists to explore other domains of intelligence and thus broadened the scope, the nature, and understanding of intelligence.
Charles Spearman proposed in 1927 that there are two types of intelligence - the general intelligence (G) and specific abilities. The general intelligence is the overall score in any intelligence test. Spearman identified specific abilities by using a statistical procedure called factor analysis in which test scores are correlated to identify specific clusters, such as verbal and mathematical reasoning. For example, a certain group (A) answered 90% of the test items correctly; another group (B) answered 75% of the test items correctly; another group (C) performed similarly as group B; and, another group (D) answered only 40% of the test items correctly. The test is composed of 20 items, equally distributed across mathematical and verbal reasoning. Suppose that 50% is the average norm. In this respect, groups B and C have the same general intelligence. However, closer inspection reveals that group B correctly answered 50% of the mathematical items and 100% of the verbal items; whereas group C correctly answered 50% of the verbal items and 100% of the mathematical items. Thus, even if groups B and C have the same general intelligence, they don't possess the same specific ability. According to Spearman, as intelligence tests continue to include more content domains, factor analysis can determine more and more specific abilities.
L. L. Thurstone proposed the multiple-factor theory back in 1938. He, too, used factor analysis to identify 7 specific mental abilities: verbal comprehension, number ability, word fluency, spatial visualization, associative memory, reasoning, and perceptual speed. Unlike Spearman, Thurstone rejected the significance of general intelligence, saying that such a measure dilutes important variations across specific abilities.
Types of Intelligence
Howard Gardner proposed back in 1983 that there are different types of intelligence. These types of intelligence are often not represented in the usual intelligence test, and thus are not simply identified by mere factor analysis. They involve unique cognitive skills, are exaggerated in few exceptional individuals, and sit at specific locations in the brain. Gardner took a step further and said that because the types of intelligence are located in specific regions of the brain, they may be lost with brain damage. So far, Gardner has identified 8 types of intelligence:
- Verbal Intelligence - using words to think and express meaning; common among authors, journalists, and speakers.
- Mathematical Intelligence - ability to manipulate numerical values and perform numerical operations; common among scientists, engineers, and accountants.
- Spatial Intelligence - ability to mentally visualize objects in 1-, 2-, 3-, and even 4-dimensions; common among architects, artists, and sailors.
- Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence - ability to manipulate the body along external factors; common among surgeons, crafts people, dancers, and athletes.
- Musical Intelligence - ability to perceive minute differences in pitch, melody, rhythm and tone; common among composers and musicians.
- Interpersonal Intelligence - ability to understand, interact, and relate to other people; common among teachers and mental health professionals.
- Intrapersonal Intelligence - ability to reflect on one's self; common among theologians and psychologists.
- Naturalistic Intelligence - ability to comprehend natural and human-made systems; common among farmers, fishermen, botanists, ecologists, and landscapers.
Gardner's 8 types of intelligence is now popularly and unofficially known as the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. This theory was applied in an experimental program called Project Spectrum, which aims to develop a comprehensive educational system. Project Spectrum provides an opportunity for elementary school children to explore their strengths and weaknesses by assigning specific sections for each types of intelligence. For example, the naturalist corner is filled with different biological specimens; the storytelling corner is filled with books and props; and the building corner is filled with small-scale models and photographs. Project Spectrum was able to identify untapped strengths and undetected weaknesses. For example, a 7-year old boy, product of a broken family, and at risk of failure, turned out to be the best in dismantling and assembling parts together in the building corner, suggesting bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. His overall school performance improved as soon as he learned that he excels at something. Another student, who was especially good at mathematical computations and conceptual memory, showed difficulty in many areas, particularly in the naturalist corner.
Robert J. Sternberg devised the triarchic theory back in 1986. According to him, there are only 3 prototypes of intelligence. Sternberg believes that Gardner's theory is too similar to specialized professions nowadays, and that as people specialize on one thing over another, there would be too many types of intelligence, defeating the idea that intelligence is mainly inherited and that skills are mainly learned. According to Sternberg, the three prototypes of intelligence are:
- Analytical Intelligence: The main component is information processing. Analytical people usually have good memory. They can quickly acquire, store, retrieve, and transform information to make up plans, decisions, solutions and results. Analytical people often excel in conventional schools and traditional assessments.
- Creative Intelligence: The main component is insight. Creative people have the ability to generate novel ideas in both familiar and extremely rare situations. They produce unconventional, though correct, solutions to problems. In school, they often do not conform to their teacher's expectations.
- Practical Intelligence: The main component is worldliness. Practical people are especially skilled at getting out of trouble and getting along with people. They have excellent social skills and good common sense. Most become successful managers, entrepreneurs, and politicians.
Sternberg also developed his own test to measure analytical, creative, and practical intelligence. The Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test (STAT) measures verbal ability, computational skills, conventional multiple-choice exam, and essays. STAT was found to be predictive of CGPAs, but needs more research to establish its validity and reliability.
Peter Salovey and John Meyer proposed emotional intelligence in 1990, but it was popularized by Daniel Goleman in 1995 in his book also titled "Emotional Intelligence." According to Salovey and Meyer, emotionally intelligent people possess 4 specific abilities:
- ability to take the perspective of others;
- ability to understand the influential and dynamic role of emotion;
- ability to utilize emotion to facilitate thought; and,
- ability to manage and control emotions in oneself and in other people.
The Meyer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) developed in 2002 aims to measure these 4 aspects of emotional intelligence. It consists of 141 items, usually administered in 30-45 minutes, to 17-year olds and above. Because the MSCEIT was just recently developed, its predictive ability especially to external measures is not yet established. However, some studies show that high emotional intelligence as measured by the MSCEIT is negatively correlated to delinquent behavior, such as smoking and drinking alcohol.
- What is the Nature of Intelligence?
- How Do We Measure Intelligence?
- How Does Neuroscience Investigate Intelligence?
- What are the Different Theories of Multiple Intelligence?
- What are the Extremes of Intelligence?
- What is Creativity?
- How Does Heredity and Environment Influence Intelligence?
- Is There Really a General Intelligence?
- How Creative Are You?