Skip to main content Skip to main content

Discovering Psychology: Updated Edition

Testing and Intelligence

Testing and Intelligence is the sixteenth program in the Discovering Psychology series. This program explores the history of intelligence tests, based on the work of Alfred Binet. You'll also explore the field of psychological assessment, potential biases in testing, and the influence of cultural beliefs and stereotypes on test performance.

View Transcript

Interview Excerpt: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences

 Dr. Howard Gardner defines mulitiple intelligences and explains how the theory represents intelligences not measured by traditional IQ tests.

The theory of multiple intelligences argues against the idea that intelligence can be accurately measured with just an IQ test. If you look at the world around you and think about all the different kinds of things that people can do well, the idea of one kind of intelligence seems too simple.

After a lot of research and analysis, I came up with a list of eight intelligences. The first one is linguistic intelligence, which is the kind of ability that a poet or writer or artist would have. The second intelligence, logical-mathematical, is what you’d find in a mathematician, logician, or scientist, as the name implies. I mention language and logic first because those are the intelligences traditionally measured in aptitude and IQ tests.

Musical intelligence is what you would find in a composer or performer, someone who can think musically. Spatial intelligence, the ability to think about the world in terms of its spatial aspects, is what you would find in a sailor, pilot, or surgeon. In the South Seas, there is a set of islands where in order to survive, you need spatial intelligence because you have to be able to navigate without a compass!

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence uses the body to learn or to make something. People who pace when they think, dancers, athletes, and surgeons are good examples.

There are two kinds of personal intelligences. Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people, something you would find in a teacher, therapist, or actor. Intra-personal intelligence deals with understanding yourself.

Finally, naturalist intelligence refers to the ability to identify and classify patterns in nature, as you would see in a biologist, for example. These eight intelligences have evolved with the human race. As cultures change, necessary skills and intelligences are likely to change with them.



Cognitive Tests: Tests that measure an individual’s learning in a specific subject area and quantify aspects of one’s mental abilities.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ): Index derived from standardized tests of intelligence. Originally obtained by dividing an individual’s mental age by his or her chronological age and then multiplying by 100; now directly computed as an IQ test score.

Personality Tests: Tests that measure the non-cognitive parts of human personality, such as interests, values, and personality traits.

Practical Intelligence: The idea of a general cognitive, physical, and spatial awareness that is innate in individuals, and which allows them to navigate spaces and social situations.

Psychometrics: Mental testing and measurement of all varieties.

Stereotype Threat: The theory that an individual’s sense of self and personal performance can be affected when the individual is reminded of a negative or positive stereotype of him or herself, including gender, race, or religion.