How are you smart? There are 9 types of intelligence

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” - Albert Einstein.

Traditional methods of measuring intelligence no longer apply. In fact, there are 9 different types of intelligence and it’s not about how smart you are but HOW you are smart. The brain is very complex and an IQ test simply doesn’t offer a holistic view of cognitive ability.

Math, science and complicated algorithms. For decades, the word ‘intelligence’ has been defined by these types of logical skills. To some extent this is still the case - just look at our school and grading system. In 1983 Howard Gardner, a graduate of Harvard University, developed a theory of Multiple Intelligences. The theory suggests people excel with different types of intelligence. 9 to be exact.

They are:

Naturalist (nature smart)

Musical (sound smart)

Mathematical (number/reasoning smart)

Existential (life smart)

Interpersonal (people smart)

Bodily-kinesthetic (body smart)

Linguistic (word smart)

Intrapersonal (self smart)

Visual-Spatial (picture smart)

Certain types of intelligence have been put on a pedestal, but what if you are not good at math or language? What has been thought to be just “soft-skills”, like interpersonal skills, Gardner realized were types of intelligence. Being a math-wonder-kid gives you the ability to understand the world, but so does being “people smart” - it’s just in a different way from a different perspective. If math isn’t your strong suit you might not be able to calculate how the earth’s population is growing, but if you’re “people smart” you’ll probably have the ability to find the person who can calculate such a thing.

In other words, Einstein isn’t smarter than Paul McCartney. They just have different intelligence.

Knowing your intelligence helps you better understand yourself and the way you learn. It is the key to your success. So without further ado, here are the 9 types of intelligence. Which is your dominant one?

Can you make anything grow? (not in that way, you dirty mind). Some people seem to have a ‘green thumb’. Others connect with animals easily and some feel completely at home in nature. People who are sensitive to the natural world have naturalistic intelligence. Botanists, chefs, geologists and landscape architects enjoy being outside, nurturing and exploring the environment.



Are you drawn towards music? People with musical intelligence have a finely tuned ear for pitch, timbre, tone and rhythm. They often pick up on noises that others would not normally be aware of. Usually they play an instrument or work with music as a profession.


Are you excellent at numbers and logical thinking? Of all the types of intelligence, the mathematical intelligence is the one we most often associate with general intelligence. People with this intelligence are excellent at maths and working with numbers. Logical intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives.


Why are we here? What is our purpose? Many of us are happy going about our daily lives, while people with high levels of existential intelligence often think more deeply about daily occurrences. They think philosophically and look for answers to questions bigger than themselves. Existential intelligence is often called spiritual or moral intelligence. Those with existential intelligence thrive as motivational speakers, psychologists, teachers, and theologists.


Are you good at reading people and have a natural ability to get on well with others? Then you probably have a high level of interpersonal intelligence. Often they are highly empathetic and really good at reading both verbal and non-verbal cues. Teachers, psychologists, life coaches and politicians have 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.




Are you awesome at coordinating your body and mind? People with this form of intelligence are natural born athletes. They use their bodies to convey feelings and ideas and have fine motor skills. Dancers, surgeons, and crafts people exhibit well-developed bodily kinesthetic intelligence.


bodily kinesthetic


Do you have a way with words? This is another one of the traditional measures of intelligence. Those with linguistic intelligence are often persuasive speakers and excellent communicators. They have a rich vocabulary and pick up new languages with ease. Journalists, novelists and lawyers have linguistic intelligence.



“I understand me!” That’s what someone with intrapersonal intelligence would say. They understand their own thoughts, feelings and emotions and are able to use these in their everyday life. It means that they understand themselves and the human condition as a whole. Writers, psychologists and philosophers usually have high intrapersonal intelligence and are often quite shy, despite having a deeper understanding of their own emotions.


Are you a great wayfinder and navigator? Then you probably have visual-spatial intelligence. This kind of intelligence allow people to conceptualize abstract ideas in 3D using mental imagery and spatial reasoning. They are often highly gifted at solving puzzles and mazes. Architects, graphic artists, photographers and pilots usually have this intelligence.

Visual spatial

So there we go. The 9 types of intelligence. Gardner suggests that people aren’t born geniuses and that hard work and dedication creates excellence. So it’s about finding out what your strongest intelligence is and then work and focus on that in order to become most successful and happy in your life. And isn’t it nice to know that even though you might not be the best at math it doesn’t mean you aren’t smart? Go get it, winner!

We created the poster INTELLIGENCE to celebrate different types of intelligence and to say that there is no right or wrong way to be smart. We should teach this to everybody and especially kids that are still being measured in very limited ways.


explore intelligence




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