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When you think of intelligence, what springs to mind? Do you imagine someone who is clever and academic, with a high IQ? Or someone with abundant knowledge about a given topic, such as history or literature? Let’s check out the various archetypes of intelligence.
Societal views on intelligence tend to revolve around the belief that it’s a fixed character trait that an IQ test can measure. The perception is that intelligence is innate and cannot be changed. However, in recent years there has been a growing awareness that this isn’t the case.
Rather than viewing intelligence as just one general attribute, psychologists have identified 9 separate bits of intelligence.
What is intelligence?
To understand the 9 archetypes of intelligence, we first need to grasp the concept of intelligence itself. This can be challenging since the word ‘intelligence’ has different meanings to different people.
Intelligence is the ability to understand, reason, plan, solve problems and make decisions. Every human can acquire and apply the knowledge cultivated through education and experience. Intelligence isn’t just about academic learning – it’s also about practical skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence.
A more precise way of defining intelligence is as follows: Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skill.
Linguistic intelligence is using words to understand the world and communicate with others. When people use words to express their thoughts and feelings, they use their linguistic intelligence.
Having linguistic intelligence means loving words and being sensitive to their nuances. It’s about appreciating the rhythm and structure of language and knowing how to apply it effectively. People with high linguistic intelligence are often talented poets, writers, and creative storytellers.
Linguistic intelligence also includes an understanding of the structure of language and grammar. People with high linguistic intelligence often excel at reading comprehension, writing, and debating.
An individual with logical-mathematical intelligence can reason logically and solve problems that involve numbers or symbols. Arithmetic concepts and systems are linked to it. It is also linked to one’s ability to reason using logic and valid arguments.
People with excellent logical and mathematical intelligence are adept at identifying patterns and solving puzzles and enjoy activities such as crosswords, jigsaws, and playing chess. They are often incredibly gifted at problem-solving and excel in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.
This type of intelligence has been linked to high serotonin levels, a chemical that helps the brain process information and retains information learned. Those with high levels of serotonin are often logical and adept at problem-solving.
Visual-spatial intelligence is the ability to think in pictures and use imagery to understand and remember concepts. In other words, it’s the ability to mentally visualize what you are thinking about and form images in your mind.
People with high visual-spatial intelligence are often talented artists and photographers and enjoy reading and writing fiction. They can create beautifully detailed images in their minds and are often incredibly imaginative. Visual-spatial intelligence can be related to some brain regions, such as the parietal lobe and prefrontal cortex.
These areas are responsible for processing sensory information and creating mental images. In addition, there is evidence that this type of intelligence is associated with high levels of oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone.’ Oxytocin may play a role in feelings of love and empathy.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to manipulate your body in a creative and coordinated way. Using your body in a way that is natural to you depends on your understanding of it. It also encompasses your ability to use your body to solve problems.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is a significant asset in sports. People with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence often excel in sports such as tennis, swimming, soccer, volleyball, and basketball. They are usually very agile, coordinated, and have excellent reflexes.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence can be related to the basal ganglia and cerebellum, two brain areas that control physical coordination.
A person’s ability to interpret and understand sound is often associated with musical intelligence. People with high auditory processing can pick up on small sounds, notice patterns, and recall music they have heard.
It pertains to understanding and creating music and appreciating its nuances and meanings. People with high musical intelligence are often gifted musicians, composers, and music critics. They also have a strong appreciation for acoustic history and theory.
Musical intelligence is closely related to bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Music and sports are often complementary, as evidenced by the fact that many musicians are also good athletes.
Existential intelligence is the capability to explore and understand life spiritually and philosophically. It encompasses insight into humanity and the human condition. People with high existential intelligence usually examine the energy and the universe in a philosophical and contemplative way.
They have often been accomplished thinkers, philosophers, and writers who enjoy exploring complex questions about life. Existential intelligence is often linked to the capacity of the brain to create new neurons. Studies show that people who can create new neurons in their brains are typically highly creative.
They can think in innovative and original ways and explore original ideas. Existential intelligence is often related to high levels of neurogenesis, a process that generates new neurons. Although neurogenesis naturally occurs in everyone, it is more likely to happen when a person is creative.
Intra-personal intelligence is the ability to understand and explore oneself. It is the ability to reflect on your feelings and emotions and apply this knowledge to solve problems. Empathy, a sentiment that allows one to feel what another person is feeling, is often associated with intra-personal intelligence.
People with high intra-personal intelligence often enjoy helping others and can use their empathy to relate to other people’s feelings. They also enjoy reflecting on their thoughts and feelings and use this self-awareness to solve problems.
Intra-personal intelligence is closely associated with empathic understanding and relating to others. However, it also involves self-awareness, the ability to understand and reflect on your thoughts and feelings.
Naturalistic intelligence is the capability to understand and explore the natural world. It is the ability to appreciate and understand nature and its patterns intuitively. People with high naturalistic intelligence are often talented botanists and zoologists who love wildlife and the environment.
They sincerely appreciate nature and its beauty. Natural intelligence often results from environmental awareness, the ability to observe and enjoy the natural world. Developing inter-personal intelligence is closely related to ecological awareness for noticing and appreciating other people.
It is also closely linked to biology, which studies living organisms and their physiological processes.
The ability to analyze and find solutions to problems is considered cognitive intelligence. Critical thinking, analyzing a situation, and seeking out flaws are closely related to it. Language, reading, and writing are also closely associated with cognitive intelligence.
People with high cognitive intelligence enjoy reading and writing and often excel at it. Cognitive intelligence is often related to thinking outside the box, looking at a situation from a different perspective, and discovering creative solutions.
Cognitive intelligence has been linked to high serotonin levels, a chemical that helps the brain process information and retains knowledge.
The above listing is by no means conclusive. It is merely a selection of 9 bits of intelligence identified and studied thoroughly. Each of these intelligence is related to a different part of the brain and another chemical.
Consider this for a moment. After all, we are all different personalities, and therefore our brains should also be different. As you can see, intelligence isn’t just a single attribute. Everyone possesses a combination of skills and abilities.