How many intelligences do you possess?
Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences (MI) theory is well-known and has been used as a basis for a more flexible type of teaching and learning but it has never been supported by research and is best described as a ‘flaky’ theory.
MI has been discredited as a model of how we learn by neuroscientists and education experts.
John White says that the eight intelligences have not been shown to exist and the “further one looks into the theory, the more unsubstantiated it appears” because “there are eight criteria by which an intelligence is identified, but no reason is given for selecting them”.
The different types of intelligence proposed by Gardner are hard to measure and difficult to assess and some of the intelligences, such as interpersonal and intrapersonal, are problematic to even define clearly.
Lynn Waterhouse (2006) found that Gardner declined to postulate what he thinks the components of the various intelligences might be or how these might be measured and has only provided hazy and ambiguous descriptions of them.
The great majority of scientists do not accept the MI theory and see it as a confused and nebulous set of claims that have not been empirically validated. Professor John Geake (2008) says:
Neuroimaging studies do not support multiple intelligences; in fact, the opposite is true. Through the activity of its frontal cortices, among other areas, the human brain seems to operate with general intelligence, applied to multiple areas of endeavour.”
Read the full Research Myths series.