How Are You Smart? The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

“It’s not how smart you are that matters, what really counts is how you are smart.” – Howard Gardner


Have you ever been in a social gathering and felt like the dumbest person in the room?


I know I have.


Depending on where the discussion would go, I would either find myself on top of my game, or completely at a loss – not knowing most of what was being talked about.


Now, perhaps this was due to my lack of knowledge, culture, or even by my lack of smarts.


However, according to Howard Gardner, the Author of Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, it was probably none of the above.


Howard Gardner revolutionized the field of Quantitative Intelligence (I.Q.) when his theory (and book) was released in 1983.


According to Gardner, “While we may continue to use the words smart and stupid, and while IQ tests may persist for certain purposes, the monopoly of those who believe in a single general intelligence has come to an end. Brain scientists and geneticists are documenting the incredible differentiation of human capacities, computer programmers are creating systems that are intelligent in different ways, and educators are freshly acknowledging that their students have distinctive strengths and weaknesses.” 


And with this premise, Gardner brought so much insight to the study of how we learn, how much, and why, that academic institutions found themselves at a crossroads of where we need to go from here with teaching curriculums.


The way we now understand human intelligence is so much more distinctive than back in the day when I.Q. tests was pretty much the only measure we had.


Unfortunately though, even if the book came out in 1983, schools, for the most part, have very slowly and very painfully adapted to the reality of multiple intelligences and types of learning in their classrooms. So slowly in fact, that it is severely lagging behind considering this information was brought forth over 35 years ago.


As the picture above reminds us, this is how most of us (and our kids) are still being treated in most learning institutions. So, guess what kind of grade the elephant will get in the ‘Tree Climbing’ test above? Probably not a very good one. 


But does this make him a failure? No. Does it mean he isn’t competent or smart? No. It does mean that he wasn’t tested in his area of strength. And it also means that he is different from the monkey, the seal, and the penguin. And conversely, the monkey’s success in this test doesn’t make him smarter or more competent than the other students overall. The test just catered to his own strengths and abilities.


What’s In It For You?


You might be thinking, “That’s all very interesting, but how will knowing about the nine types of intelligences help me as a Christian? And more specifically, as a Christian Entrepreneur?” 


Well, I’m glad you asked.


In the Bible and in Church we are encouraged to know God and have a deeper relationship with Him. This is the most important knowledge as a human being – the knowledge of our Creator and Father and a strong relationship with Him. And through Him, we may get much insight into our own hearts. The Scriptures remind us of this fact when David says: Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23-24


So, God knowing us, and us knowing Him, is a dynamic combination for the growth of the believer. 


I once heard someone say, “The Bible knows a great deal about me.”


I chuckled because of the truth of that statement. Indeed, the Scriptures are shock-full of knowledge about the general human condition, our depravity, our tortuous heart. It is always the best place to begin a personal growth journey. It is a mirror that shows us our true state as human beings.


Nevertheless, as an advocate of personal growth, I believe knowing yourself in the specifics of you is another key that may unlock many doors in your life. 


Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”


Self-knowledge, coupled with the fear of the Lord, will empower a believer into achieving their utmost for His glory. 


And knowing about the nine types of intelligences and where you find yourself on the spectrum is one great way to add to your arsenal of self-knowledge.


It will enable you to:


♦ Understand your intellectual strengths better and to leverage them. 


♦ Judge others less. We tend to judge those who do not have the same intelligences as we do. When we understand the variety of intelligences, we respect the differences more.


♦ Build more effective teams. Being able to decipher intelligence areas in others can only improve your ability to maximise the efficiency of your team.


As you delve deep into these different areas provided by this teaching, pray and ask God to reveal to you which ones apply specifically to you. Ask Him to make this knowledge fruitful as you aim to develop yourself and apply it to your life.


So, without any further ado, let’s go down the list of The 9 Different Types of Intelligences


And as we do, try and see where you find yourself ‘like a fish in water’.


1- Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”): Linguistic intelligence is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings. Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words and to apply meta-linguistic skills to reflect on our use of language. Linguistic intelligence is the most widely shared human competence and is evident in poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers. Young adults with this kind of intelligence enjoy writing, reading, telling stories or doing crossword puzzles.

Characteristics of Linguistic Intelligence

  • Enjoys writing
  • Good at editing
  • Avid Reader
  • Uses fancy words
  • Enjoys word games
  • Speaks of what they read
  • Remembers quotes
  • Likes puns and rhymes
  • Enjoys foreign languages
  • Loves English class

Possible Careers for High Linguistic Intelligence

  • Copywriter
  • Court Reporter
  • Editor
  • Journalist
  • Lecturer
  • Broadcaster/Newscaster
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Teacher
  • Translator/Interpreter
  • Writer


2- Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”): Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations. It enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns. Logical intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives. Young adults with lots of logical intelligence are interested in patterns, categories, and relationships. They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.

Characteristics of Logical Intelligence

  • Rational
  • Objective
  • Good at strategy games
  • Likes numbers
  • Seeks precision
  • Grasps complex data
  • Factual
  • Logical
  • Good at math
  • Appreciates science

Possible Careers for High Logical Intelligence

  • Accountant
  • Computer Programmer
  • Engineer
  • Financial Planner
  • Lawyer/Attorney
  • Mathematician
  • Medical Doctor
  • Military Officer
  • Scientist
  • Technical Writer


3- Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”): Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in three dimensions. Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination. Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence. Young adults with this kind of intelligence may be fascinated with mazes or jigsaw puzzles, or spend free time drawing or daydreaming.

Characteristics of Visual Intelligence

  • Notices colors and shapes
  • Can visualize anything
  • Good at visual puzzles
  • Enjoys geometry
  • Loves to draw and paint
  • Enjoys photography
  • Appreciates books with pictures
  • Good with directions
  • Remembers places vividly
  • Good at artistic composition

Possible Careers for High Visual Intelligence

  • Architect
  • Art Director
  • Artist
  • Computer Animator
  • Fashion Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Interior Decorator
  • Photographer
  • Video Editor
  • Web Designer


4- Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”): Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills. This intelligence also involves a sense of timing and the perfection of skills through mind–body union. Athletes, dancers, surgeons, and crafts people exhibit well-developed bodily kinesthetic intelligence.

Characteristics of Kinesthetic Intelligence

  • Learns by doing
  • Well-coordinated
  • Good with hands
  • Enjoys sports
  • Seeks excitement
  • Very active
  • Crafty
  • Energetic
  • Enjoys the outdoors
  • Athletic

Possible Careers for High Kinesthetic Intelligence

  • Actor/Actress
  • Athlete
  • Carpenter
  • Construction Worker
  • Farmer
  • Firefighter
  • Park Ranger
  • Mechanic
  • Paramedic/EMT
  • Physical Therapist


5- Musical intelligence (“music smart”): Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone. This intelligence enables us to recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalist, and sensitive listeners. Interestingly, there is often an effective connection between music and the emotions; and mathematical and musical intelligences may share common thinking processes. Young adults with this kind of intelligence are usually singing or drumming to themselves. They are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss.

Characteristics of Musical Intelligence

  • Highly auditory
  • Can memorize songs
  • Has good rhythm
  • Notices off-key notes
  • Enjoys different sounds
  • Likes to sing
  • Whistles or taps foot
  • Talented with instruments
  • Gifted at composing
  • Sensitive to noise

Possible Careers for High Musical Intelligence

  • Choir Director
  • Composer
  • Conductor
  • Disc Jockey
  • Music Teacher
  • Musician
  • Record Producer
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Studio Technician


6- Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”): Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others. It involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives. Teachers, social workers, actors, and politicians all exhibit interpersonal intelligence. Young adults with this kind of intelligence are leaders among their peers, are good at communicating, and seem to understand others’ feelings and motives.

Characteristics of Interpersonal Intelligence

  • Extraverted
  • Enjoys social events
  • Loves crowds
  • Empathetic
  • Enjoys teaching others
  • Has many friends
  • Enjoys team sports
  • Counsels others
  • Loves meeting new people
  • Sensitive to others

Possible Careers for High Interpersonal Intelligence

  • Clergy
  • Counselor
  • Diplomat
  • Politician
  • Public Relations
  • Receptionist
  • Sales Agent
  • Social Worker
  • Supervisor
  • Teacher


7- Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”): Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and to use such knowledge in planning and directioning one’s life. Intra-personal intelligence involves not only an appreciation of the self, but also of the human condition. It is evident in psychologist, spiritual leaders, and philosophers. These young adults may be shy. They are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated.

Characteristics of Intrapersonal Intelligence

  • Intuitive
  • Self-aware
  • Spends time reflecting
  • Likes to learn about self
  • Philosophical
  • Independent
  • Enjoys journaling
  • Works well alone
  • Usually introverted
  • Interested in self-employment

Possible Careers for High Intrapersonal Intelligence

  • Entrepreneur
  • Farmer
  • Historian
  • Inventor
  • Librarian
  • Philosopher
  • Psychologist
  • Scientist
  • Theologian
  • Writer


8- Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”): Naturalist intelligence designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef. It is also speculated that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like.

Characteristics of Naturalist Intelligence

  • Notices natural patterns
  • Learns through natural contact
  • Upset by pollution
  • Comfortable with animals
  • Good at gardening
  • Appreciates plants
  • Appreciates scenic views
  • Inspired by nature
  • Enjoys outdoor activities
  • Aware of weather changes

Possible Careers for High Naturalist Intelligence

  • Animal Trainer
  • Breeder
  • Farmer
  • Park Ranger
  • Geologist
  • Horticulturist
  • Landscaper
  • Marine Biologist
  • Veterinarian
  • Zookeeper


9- Existential intelligence (“philosophical smart”):  Existential Intelligence people demonstrate great sensitivity and capacity to tackle the BIG questions about human existence, such as where we came from, the meaning of life, why we die, and the chief end of man. This intelligence may also be linked to the spiritual sphere where knowledge of the Divine, the paranormal, and even mysticism come into play. Existential intelligence involves an individual’s ability to use collective values and intuition to understand others and the world around them. People who excel in this intelligence typically are able to see the big picture. Philosophers, theologians, and life coaches, are among those that Gardner sees as having high existential intelligence.

Characteristics of Existential Intelligence


  • Reflective 
  • Deep thinking 
  • Devises or enjoys abstract theories
  • Appreciates theories about human existence
  • Meditates or pray regularly
  • More religious or spiritual
  • Inspired by the unseen
  • Does not shy away from deep conversations
  • Not averse to thinking about the afterlife


Possible Careers for High Existential Intelligence


  • Pastor
  • Meditation instructor
  • Yoga instructor
  • Psychic
  • Pastoral counselor
  • Chaplain
  • Public speaker
  • Philosopher




Recommended Resources: 


Listen to our Podcast episode on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences here:


Take the Multiple Intelligences Test here:


Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, by Howard Gardner


Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice, by Howard Gardner


The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain, by Thomas Armstrong, PhD 


Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, by Daniel Goleman


Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling 25th Anniversary Edition, by John Taylor Gatto


Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling, by John Taylor Gatto


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About the author, Sebastien

Sebastien Richard was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1974. He is happlily married, has three children (Jason, Marissa, and Katelyn), and now resides in Prince Edward Island (Canada). He is a sought-after Bible teacher, and speaker.

In 2015, God led him to found Thriving on Purpose (, a Faith-based organization where (along with his wife, Elisabeth) he provides Kingdom knowledge for today's believers, helping them to build up the Kingdom of God and tear down strongholds.

Aside from his next books, Sebastien is most active in producing impactful content for his weekly Facebook broadcasts.

When he's not busy with ministry, or courageously leading his family to further happiness and bliss, he enjoys masterminding with Elisabeth at breakfast time, family road trips, researching fringe theories, cryptozoology, geek culture, and movie nights with the kids while chowing down pizza.

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