People are Smart in Different Ways Pt. 1

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

If you think that only "nerds" can be superintelligent and athletes are "thick in  head, " then read on.  This article will clear up such misconceptions.   You may even find out that you're smarter than you thought.  Alfred Binet of Paris constructed the first intelligence test in 1905 to identify primary school children of not-so-rich homes for their potential for higher education.  Binet basically constructed a test to predict academic success.  Unfortunately, intelligence tests or IQ tests as they're called, are now seen as true and only measures of human intelligence.  Intelligence Quotient (IQ) alone can't assess how smart people actually are because IQ basically measures academic aptitude.  Success in life depends on many other assets beside academic success.
According  to Howard Gardner, a famous Harvard University psychologist, intelligence is not a single unified ability; there are "multiple intelligences."  Gardner's "theory of multiple intelligences (MI) has received a lot of attention.  He identifies seven major types of intelligence.  Tony Buzan, a famous British author and researcher, who himself possesses the highest-ever assessed creative ability, claims that there are ten "prime intelligences."   These ten prime intelligences are listed below:  

1.  Verbal (linguistic) Intelligence.   It refers to our grasp of words meaning and reasoning through words.  Poets, authors, and eloquent speakers have it in ample measure.   Academic success depends on it.  Traditional IQ tests and achievement tests rely a great deal on this ability.  In our society, verbal intelligence sits on a very high pedestal.  

2.  Numerical Intelligence:  This is the logical-mathematical ability.  Scientists, statisticians,  and physicists have it to a fuller extent than do others.  Academic success depends on it. Traditional IQ tests and achievement tests rely a great deal on this ability.  In our society, it is venerated but also dreaded.  

3.  Spatial Intelligence:  It is the ability to maneuver and operate space.  Without it, we won't be able to create and manipulate intricate shapes and designs.  Lay-outs, models, ,structures, and graphical plans utilize spatial intelligence.  because of spatial intelligence, we can read a map and get to our destination.  Engineers, sailors, architects, sculptors, painters, gardeners. and surgeons have it in ample measure.   IQ tests rely on it but not to the extent they do on verbal and numerical intelligences.  

 Most of the traditional IQ tests rely almost exclusively on verbal, numerical, and spatial intelligence.  Tests, such as the SAT and ACT are also based on the above stated three intelligences.  In all societies, where formal education is prevalent, a child's smartness or lack of smartness is determined by these three intelligences which are basically, the ability for 3-R'S.  The other seven intelligences are not a part of any formal assessment.  However, success, fame, prosperity, and overall quality of life depends not just the "big three"  intelligences, but also on the other seven that are listed below.    

4.  Interpersonal Intelligence:  It is the ability to relate to people and understand them.  To connect with people we have to be able to sense their feeling and thoughts.   We team up with others, follow them, lead them, motivate them, and guide them (or misguide them).   The reason that "nerds" are a butt of joke by others is that they lack or neglect this particular ability.  

 Interpersonal intelligence is perhaps the most complex ability and perhaps the most essential requirement in order to succeed in life unless one's concept of success is to survive on planet Jupiter single-handedly.        

 Successful salespeople, politicians, teachers, counselors, religious leaders and leaders of all varieties have to have a lot of interpersonal intelligence.   

5.  Intra-personal Intelligence:  The prefix "Intra" means within.  While the interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and get along with others, intra-personal intelligence is the ability to understand and get along with one's own self.  Another name for this intelligence is "personal insight."  It is very important for all of us to understand ourselves, to know who we are, and to talk to ourselves intelligently.       

 Those who are at peace with themselves have intra-personal intelligence in ample measure and those who are at war with themselves lack in this particular department.  It does not necessarily accompany other intelligences.  For example, some people have superb verbal and numerical intelligence but they perform extremely self-destructive behaviors.  None of their talents and superior abilities in other areas can bring happiness in their lives because their intra-personal intelligence is either deficient or not fully functional.  In order to succeed in life, we need to know our faults, assets, our whims, and idiosyncrasies. Incidentally, counseling may be very helpful in developing interpersonal and intra-personal intelligences.

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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