Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences



Gardner defines intelligence as : ability to solve problems or to create products which are valued in one or more cultural settings.


Intelligence is evidenced by our use of

symbolic systems to understand and act on the world around us.


These symbol systems involve perception, memory, and learning within a specific area.


At Least Seven Symbol Systems show evidence of human Intelligence (according to Gardner) :


Linguistic;  mathematical; spatial; musical; bodily kinesthetic; and intrapersonal intelligence and interpersonal intelligence.


A different symbol system controls our actions within each category, thus we can show great musical talent at the same time we show an average level of linguistic talent.  (Symbolic systems are largely independent)


Athletes, craftsman, surgeons all have high levels of bodily kinesthetic intelligence .


Spatial intelligence is valued by sculptors & surveyors

Interpersonal Intelligence : being able to interpret and manipulate the mood states of others.


Intrapersonal Intelligence : self-awareness of one's own feelings and cognitions and the ability to use that information to your advantage.


       Cultural Differences in Intelligence


According to Gardner, our culture plays a significant role in which symbolic systems are more prized and become more highly developed within a specific culture.


In modern Western cultures,  linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences are highly valued.


In hunting cultures, bodily kinesthetic intelligence is more useful.


Support for Gardner's Typology :


Comes from brain injury patients who have significant impairment in some cognitive areas, but normal functioning in others.


Also developmental evidence in how children vary in their acquisition of these different symbol systems.




The PASS model of cognitive Processing


Assumes the brain is divided into three functional units :


The First Functional Unit : responsible for allocating attentional  resources and maintaining a constant sense of awareness. Controls Awareness


The Second Functional Unit : responsible for visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory perception and the storage of that information. Controls Analysis and Storage


The Third Functional Unit : Responsible for complex cognitive activity including planning, regulation, and

 Verification. Controls Complex Thought


These Different Units have been partially localized within the Brain :


First Functional Unit :  Upper Brain stem and Limbic System


Second Functional Unit : occipital, auditory, and parietal cortex.


Third Functional Unit : Prefrontal and frontal lobe activity.



Piaget's theory of cognitive development


Jean Piaget was interested in documenting the various cognitive stages that a child progresses through on its way to adulthood.\



Piaget viewed children as active information processors, or miniature scientists who are continually testing and revising new hypothesis which allow them to make sense of their surroundings.


Schema : mental template we use to organize the world.


Children come to know the world through adaptation (or equilibration) which involves:


Assimilation :  Fitting in new pieces of information into existing knowledge structures. (Schemata)


Accommodation : Changing existing hypothesis (or Schemata) to fit new information


As the child grows, it combines simple schemas into more complex schemas through organization.



4 periods of Cognitive Development (Piaget)



Stage One :  The Sensorimotor Stage : from birth to age two. Child learns simple reflex and motor coordination skills.


Stage Two : The Preoperational Period :  From age 2 to 7.  Child acquires language and other symbolic systems, and the child's focus is self-directed.

Object Permanence appears within this stage.


Stage Three : The Concrete operational Period : Age 7 to 12.  Social Interaction is key to the organization of simple schemas as the child becomes less self focused.


Stage Four : The Formal Operations Period : Age 12 and up. Child can now use logic and verbal reasoning to solve complex and abstract problems.


Different Tests can measure a child's development on terms of Piaget's framework :


Ordinal Scales of Cognitive Development (Uzgiris & Hunt, 1975)


Piaget Test Kit




Other Factors which affect intelligence



Developmental :


Prenatal and postnatal care.  Nourishment and proper care is essential both before and after childbirth.  FAS, babies born addicted to cocaine or heroin, low birth weight, premature birth, mother's dental care.

Lead poisoning and other environmental hazards can reduce intelligence.



Enriched Environment :  an environment filled with stimuli and people helps to promote learning.  This environmental difference is one reason noted for rural/city differences in intelligence.


Age : Intelligence declines after the age of 15 or 25 or 30 depending upon which theory of intelligence we are discussing.  Age decrements are almost unavoidable in the 7th and 8th decade of life.


       People who engage in intellectually challenging activities can reduce or eliminate these intelligence drops.


 Terminal Drop : The change in activity and cognitive functioning seen shortly (up to 2 years) before death.



Family Size : There is a curvilinear relationship between family size and IQ.  Average IQ increases for children as the number of children in a family increases from 1 to 2, and then drops somewhat for each additional child.


       The first child can assist in the intellectual development of the second child.  The second child learns faster, as a result, and the first child learns about communication and teaching.


       As family size increases above two, the priorities are shifted from constant enrichment of a child's life to a more care giving environment, as each additional child adds to the cleaning, cooking, and purchasing burden of the family.


Birth Order : The first child is thought to have the biggest advantage because parents spend more time with the first child than with other children, and so the child benefits from this increased parental contact and has a higher intelligence as a result.


Urban vs. Rural :  Rural children have lower IQ in general, but this discrepancy has been reduced over the past forty years.



Job and Money



Occupation :  Harell & Harell (1945) rated the IQ's of 70 different occupations :


Accountants, Lawyers, and Engineers at the top



Teamsters, Miners, and Farmers at the bottom.


However, a wide range of IQ's exist within a discipline.


Education attainment is also linked to intelligence, however this may be a self-fufilling prophecy as an adequate achievement test score is needed to even enter college.



              Expectations and Academic success



Rosenthal & Jacobsen (1968) : showed how teachers expectations of pupils success affected those students performance.


In a San Francisco elementary school, they administered  a Test of General Ability to grades 1 - 6.


They gave teachers a list of students they thought were "potential spurters"; students they expected to make significant cognitive gains within the next year of school. 

However, this list was randomly generated.


The TOGA was then readministered 6 months and 1 year later to the students.


In grades 1 - 3, students labeled as "potential spurters" made greater average score increases than the control groups.


These students were rated as happier, demonstrating greater curiosity, and rated less in need of social approval than control students.


Grades 4 - 6, there was no difference.  Students have already accepted an academic label by that time and are not as responsive to suggestive encouragement.

(the academic schema is already well formed


Ethnic Differences in Intelligence


Continues to be a controversial issues.


Japanese vs Caucasian Americans


2% of Americans score  > 130


10% of Japanese > 130



One Explanation for superior Japanese performance, compared to Caucasian Americans, is that Japanese children are physically healthier than Caucasian Americans, and greater physical health leads to higher levels of intelligence


Another explanation is the drop in kinship marriage has made the Japanese genetic stock more vigorous (hybrid vigor)


Child Rearing and the formal educational system are the other two reasons commonly given.


Lynn (1987) claims a biological difference exists, Asians have a higher proportion of cortical tissue devoted to processing spatial information than Americans (A structural difference in the left hemisphere)



African American  - Caucasian American Differences



       Stereotypes and shoddy research has clouded these issues for decades.


Reynolds (1987) Caucasian Americans  score, on average, 1 SD unit above African Americans


However, the IQ distributions show considerable overlap.  (more within group variation than between group variation)


So, 15 % of African Americans score higher than the average Caucasian on intelligence tests.


And 15 % of Caucasians score below the average African American IQ level.


Whether these differences are primarily the result of environment and/or genetics is still an issue of considerable debate.


Herrnstein & Murray (1984)  The Bell Curve : a book that claimed genetic differences underly these differences in intelligence scores.