How Multiple Intelligence Theory Reveals Opportunities for Personal Growth

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How Multiple Intelligence Theory Reveals Opportunities for Personal Growth

So, how intelligent are you?  


If the question makes you a little uneasy, then you are like most people.  


Very few topics in our culture are as talked about with as little understanding as the issue of intelligence. This is true because while it’s easy to assume we know what intelligence means, it’s actually extremely difficult to define.  


The truth is many types of intelligence exist yet are not supported or celebrated by traditional education or society.  It’s for this reason that many people never put their natural skills or talents to good use.


Try for yourself to define intelligence, and you’ll find out just how elusive it really is.


Does a high academic achiever, scientist or intellectual possess intelligence? What about someone who is a musical virtuoso, or someone who appears to make friends with anyone and everyone with great ease? What about the person who effortlessly picks up anything athletic?  


The latest research suggests that all of the examples given above represent one type of intelligence. In fact, research by Howard Gardner of Harvard University suggests that there are at least nine different types of intelligence: 


Verbal/Linguistic Musical/Rhythmic Visual/Spatial Logical/Mathematical Bodily/Kinesthetic Interpersonal Intrapersonal Naturalist Existentialist


In his book Frames of Mind Gardner states:  

“I regard Multiple Intelligence theory as a ringing endorsement of three key propositions:  

we are not all the same; we do not all have the same kind of minds (that is, we are not all distinct points on a single bell curve); and education works most effectively if these differences are taken into account rather than denied or ignored.”


To put Gardner’s comment another way, we would say:  “Life works most effectively when differences are taken into account rather than denied or ignored.”  


Differences in the way we perceive the world is a key concept of The Vega Role Facilities Theory® (VRFT) which categorizes the various ways people perceive into six distinct Perceptual Styles.  These six styles define the way people take in information through their five senses and make that information meaningful. Perceptual Style acts as a filter between sensation and understanding. It is at the core of who a person is, and it impacts their values, beliefs, feelings, and psychology.  We use VRFT as a skills assessment tool to make career, skills and personality assessments.


Both Multiple Intelligences and VRFT theories recognize the important understanding that we’re not all the same and that the differences between us bring great rewards when they’re accepted and celebrated. We also acknowledge that many of types of intelligence are not supported by traditional education, which usually recognizes only two of the nine types (Verbal/Linguistic and Logical/Mathematical).  


Try this. Take seven minutes and reflect on the nine different types of intelligence discovered by Gardner listed above.


Which of them ring true for you? Think of some examples in your experience. Do any represent an arena in which you are uncomfortable? Can you think of some examples?


Make the decision to explore the concept of multiple intelligences more completely to discover areas where some of your natural potential may be hidden.  There may be some excellent opportunities for personal growth.



Gary Jordan, Ph.D., has over 27 years of experience in clinical psychology, behavioral assessment, individual development, and coaching. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology – Berkeley. He’s the co-founder of Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., a consulting firm that specializes in helping people discover their true skills and talents. Visit for more information.

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