People are naturally curious—we like to have a profound understanding of ourselves and to know what categories we fit into. This search for labels is particularly true when it comes to personality and intelligence. Every individual has their own unique learning style, but that doesn’t stop us from taking quizzes to identify the broader groups that can explain how we process and retain information.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for intelligence types. Intelligence is highly nuanced and complex, but it can be useful to have a general idea of how you acquire knowledge to create optimal learning environments. For example, for engineers who have to problem solve and enact critical thinking, this awareness can fuel faster, more innovative and impactful outcomes.
We navigate the question “what is my intelligence type?”, and how the answer could help budding engineers.
Use Intelligence Types as a Guide, Not a Pathway
It’s important to remember that people cannot be minimized to one intelligence type. While there may be one category that you resonate more strongly with, intelligence is diverse and cannot be defined by a few single criteria.
For instance, if you discover that you have the most traits described for kinesthetic learners, that doesn’t mean you can only learn through physical activity. Equally if you believe that interpersonal intelligence is your greatest strength, it doesn’t mean that’s the only area you can thrive in.
Alternatively, intelligence types are beneficial to have some parameters around what does and doesn’t work for you when learning. Knowing your type enables you to adapt and modify how you approach tasks to maximize your takeaways. For example, if you’re a visual-spatial learner, you could use Sphero robots to see the physical manifestation of code that you write.
The trick, however, is to not let your deemed intelligence type become a self-fulfilling prophecy. How you learn is far more vast than a single tagline, and given the proper guidance people can learn just as much from learning styles that aren’t their “perfect” match.
The intelligence types below are taken from Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory.
Having visual-spatial intelligence means you best analyze, store, and recall information that is presented through visual means. People with visual-spatial intelligence are able to think abstractly and often exhibit multiple creative skills.
Visual-spatial intelligence is beneficial for engineers as it enables them to mentally picture, rotate, and manipulate 3D images, as well as to envision the workings of projects before they’ve been realized. This type of intelligence also lends itself well to careers as architects, scientists, pilots, and surveyors.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is defined by having strong physical skills, good timing, and a deep connection between mind and body. People with this intelligence often enjoy solving problems or creating products using hand and body movements.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence serves engineers because it allows them to handle objects or tools with ease. Because of this, mechanical engineers often benefit from this intelligence type. Other professions that benefit from bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are physical therapists, athletes, mechanics, and actors.
Musical intelligence is present in people who have a distinct ability to recognize and create sounds, rhythms, and audio patterns. Individuals with high musical intelligence tend to have good pitch and can normally sing, play instruments, and compose music.
For engineers, musical intelligence can support knowing how components interact with one another in robotics. By listening to the timing of processes, musical intelligence can help engineers confirm that cycles have successfully taken place. In addition to this, the coupling of creativity and engineering could help people strive for positions like technical product managers. Other professions that invoke musical intelligence include singers, music teachers, journalists, and poets.
Sometimes referred to as “verbal intelligence”, linguistic intelligence refers to the ability to understand and reason using words. It is linked to abstract reasoning and memory, and for many people, positively influences their ability to learn and work in a foreign language. Examples of well-known career paths with linguistic intelligence are novelists, poets, and public speakers.
Engineers with linguistic intelligence can excel in writing code, receiving and giving instructions, communicating difficult tasks, and collaborating in group projects. Lawyers, speech pathologists, and foreign language teachers are good careers for those with advanced linguistic intelligence.
Logical-mathematical intelligence is rooted in analyzing problems and scenarios via scientific research, proven knowledge, and calculations. It additionally involves detecting numerical patterns and carrying out methodical investigations.
Engineers regularly apply logical-mathematical intelligence to comprehend cause and effect, and to carry out calculations. Other professions that heavily leverage this type of intelligence are accountants, statisticians, scientists, and computer analysts.
Interpersonal intelligence has to do with how you interact with others. Individuals with high interpersonal intelligence are often extroverts, but not always. These people are sensitive to others’ emotions and motivations, and can cooperate well in group settings. They generally learn best in tandem with other people.
Interpersonal intelligence serves engineers because it enables them to understand other people’s reactions and to collaborate more efficiently. Other professions that benefit from interpersonal intelligence are psychologists, politicians, and sales representatives.
Intrapersonal intelligence looks at self-reflective capacities. It encompasses being intuitive, and normally, introverted. People with intrapersonal intelligence are adept at deciphering their own feelings and understanding themselves, for example, their strengths, weaknesses, and reactions—they may very well be the ones reading this article most actively looking for their intelligence type.
Although intrapersonal intelligence isn’t strongly correlated with engineering, high intrapersonal intelligence can mean having a preference to work alone, which many engineers do during heads down coding. Different trajectories that are suited to intrapersonal intelligence include program planners and entrepreneurs.
Naturalistic intelligence is one of the newer branches of intelligence to be defined. It relates to how people receive and apply information to their natural surroundings. Those with high naturalistic intelligence are in tune with nature and learn by exploring their environments; subsequently, they’re aware of even the most subtle changes in their surroundings.
Naturalistic intelligence can be good for engineers to understand the spaces and contexts in which they are building (particularly for civil engineers). That said, biologists, conservationists, and farmers are more likely to exhibit this type of intelligence.
Additionally, environmental engineering is a booming career path as the world reacts more and more to our changing climate and the impacts of the human footprint. An interest in engineering plus an aptitude for naturalistic intelligence seems like an obvious reason for someone to look into environmental engineering or environmental robotics.
Understanding Your Intelligence Type Can Help
Knowing your intelligence type can certainly fuel more productive learning pathways, but it should be seen as a springboard—not the sole direction—for your education. Especially for engineers, who don many hats in their work and skill sets, it’s valuable to pinpoint how you best learn, but be open to other modes as well.
Start exercising your intelligence type(s) and much more with Sphero robots.