Q. What’s all the hype about IQ anyway? I know there is more than one type of intelligence. Why not measure all of them?

A. Good question, and you are correct that there are “multiple” forms of intelligence. Howard Gardner in his book Frames of Mind: the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, lists nine (9) ways in which to be “smart.” Those are in alphabetical order:

  • Bodily-kinesthetic(body smart)
  • Existential (life smart)
  • Interpersonal (people smart)
  • Intra-personal (self smart)
  • Linguistic (word smart)
  • Logical-mathematical (number/reasoning smart)
  • Musical (sound smart)
  • Naturalist (nature smart)
  • Spatial (picture smart)

It would be quite an undertaking to attempt to devise accurate and consistently verifiable assessments for these types of intelligences. It would likely be unhelpful if there were measures for everything because every brain is different. Certainly the Johnson-O’Connor Research Foundation has attempted to devise ways to assess aptitudes since 1922.

And you are correct that many think the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests have been touted as assessing perhaps more than it is possible to assess, especially since one must have quite a good grasp of written language to answer the questions. My favorite IQ test is the one given by MENSA International because rather than assigning a number—which can be problematic when trying to do comparisons—they groups scores in a percentile rating.

More recently researchers such as Dalip Singh, PhD, D. Litt., of India are endeavoring to create a measuring system for one’s level of Emotional Intelligence. You can learn something from almost any assessment as long as you understand what it is designed to measure. In the end, however, getting to know yourself—including what tasks your brain does most energy-efficiently and how to use emotions and feelings to guide intelligent and appropriate behaviors—can be critical and life-changing.

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