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Multiple Intelligences

     

One criticism that is justly levelled at intelligence tests is that they assess a very narrow concept of what intelligence is. Given that these tests developed out of the area of educational assessment (Binet), this is perhaps surprising. In fact, many argue that intelligence tests should more accurately be called tests of academic ability or aptitude, rather than tests of intelligence per se; with tests of fluid intelligence measuring logical, deductive reasoning in its most abstract form and tests of crystallised intelligence assessing the ability to use acquired knowledge to solve problems of logic.

 

A number of psychologists (see in particular Howard Gardener, 1993, and Robert Sternberg, 1985) have convincingly argued that intelligence is a much broader concept than the simple ability to solve problems of logic (which is what is assessed by traditional IQ tests). As such, traditional intelligence tests are better described as tests of reasoning ability, rather than as intelligence tests. To clarify this point, Sternberg (1985) has proposed a triarchic model of intelligence, suggesting that there are three different kinds of intelligence; the ability to solve logical, analytical problems (which is assessed by traditional intelligence tests), and what he terms Practical Intelligence and Creative Intelligence. Sternberg has amassed a huge collection of evidence to support his view that there are different types of intelligence, with traditional reasoning tests assessing only one limited type of intelligence.

Most significantly, the view that there are different kinds of intelligence makes intuitive sense. We all know people who are not very good at academic work and, as a result underachieved at school, but who have a wealth of common sense and are great at solving practical, real world problems. We might consider such people as being streetwise, as having native whit, or as having what Sternberg terms Practical Intelligence. Similarly, we all know people who were very successful at school, and are generally considered to be
very intelligent, but who lack common sense, and can at times shock us with their apparent inability to understand practical, day-to-day real world problems. Sternberg would suggest that while these people are highly intelligent, in the sense that they have a high IQ, they lack Practical Intelligence. Moreover, Sternberg has noted that many people who are highly creative, and regularly come up with very imaginative and innovative solutions to problems, are not always very good at solving logical, analytical problems; thus while they may not have a high IQ, they clearly have Creative Intelligence.
 

 

More recently, Goleman (1995) has coined the term Emotional Intelligence to describe people’s ability to: understand their own and others’ emotions; understand social situations; successfully negotiate relationships and use their emotions creatively to solve problems intuitively. Most importantly, Goleman has argued that emotional intelligence may be more important for success in life, than is the ability to solve logical problems. Certainly, we can all think of seemingly highly intelligent people who routinely mess things up because of their failure to understand how others are thinking, what they want, and find a way of bringing them round to their pint of view so they can achieve their own goals. Thus for success in life, rather than just success at school, Practical Intelligence, Creative Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence may be more important than having a high IQ.
 
 

 

 
 

 
 

 

   

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