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Are Cognitive Functions and Multiple Intelligence Theories Related?

Is it possible that cognitive functions and multiple intelligence theories are related? Dive in to know more.

Are cognitive functions and multiple intelligence theories related to each other
Photo by Egor Vikhrev on Unsplash

Intelligence is one of the most prominent areas of research. For instance, by conducting various tests to understand the human mind and its patterns, we have a piece of good knowledge about human intelligence and its relations with cognitive perceptions.

Besides, IQ and EQ assessments provide us with subjective intelligence too. However, the truth is intelligence is subjective, and we can’t judge it through tests.

There is also another theory that has a different perspective on the manifestation of human intelligence, and according to it, there are nine types of intelligence.

Howard Earl Gardner, an American psychologist, proposed the existence of multiple intelligence, namely:

  • Naturalist intelligence
  • Musical intelligence
  • Visual or spatial intelligence
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Linguistic intelligence
  • Interpersonal intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence
  • Existential intelligence.

Here, we are going to compare these nine types of intelligence with Jung’s theory of eight cognitive functions. These are:

  • Extroverted Sensation (Se)
  • Introverted Sensation (Si)
  • Extroverted Intuition (Ne)
  • Introverted Intuition (Ni)
  • Extroverted Thinking (Te)
  • Introverted Thinking (Ti)
  • Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
  • Introverted Feeling (Fi)

There are nine types of intelligence and eight cognitive functions. Therefore, a comparison between the two will give us a better idea about the combined use of multiple intelligence and cognitive functions in personality psychology.


You can also watch the video below by psych2go to know about the nine types of intelligence:

Types of Intelligence

1. Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart) — Te, Se, Ne

One of the well-known types of intelligence is naturalist intelligence. It is concerned with the natural elements and processes governing the world around us.

By definition,

It is the ability of an individual to find patterns and hence maintain relationships concerning nature.

In other words, individuals who resonate and actively engage with the natural stuff around them are more likely to be nature smart.

The image of green earth representing naturalist intelligence.
Image by anncapictures from Pixabay

On comparing it with cognitive functions, we found that the judging function Te and perceiving functions Se and Ne are likely to form strong bonds with nature. Now, that doesn’t mean the others do not respond this way. However, the above-mentioned three functions are inclined to bond with nature.

Te systematizes and structures the environment. It is highly capable of being aware of its natural surroundings. With a good grasp of Te, one can bring structure to the chaotic systems of nature.

Se recognizes subtle changes in its environment like sight, smell, taste, etc. It is highly aware of the sensory information obtained from the physical world. Also, it has an edge over the other functions in understanding its natural environment accurately.

Ne notices patterns and possibilities in the environment. But, it isn’t present-oriented and looks for details to gain a complete understanding of nature and its processes. Ne users are more likely to take care of animals and plants and develop a deep bond with wildlife.


2. Musical Intelligence (Music Smart) — Si, Ne, and Fi

As the name suggests, musical intelligence has a lot in common with the essence of music. In other words, it depends on the musical experience such as sounds, tones, and rhythms.

By definition,

“It is the ability of an individual to think in patterns, rhythms, and sounds.

Hence, musical intelligence emphasizes alleviating the music experience to its finest.

The illustration of a guitar and violin representing musical intelligence.
Image by Alexander Lesnitsky from Pixabay.

On comparing them with the cognitive functions, we found that the judging function Fi and perceiving functions Si and Ne notice patterns in music more readily.

Si recalls the experiences noticed and absorbed in the past.  Unlike Se, it is introverted and perceives internally from past sensory experiences or memories. In other words, it provides an essence of nostalgia to any form of music and alleviates these experiences in tones and rhythms.

Fi guides one’s emotions, feelings, and ethics and utilizes these emotional states to provide a surreal musical experience. In fact, the ability of Fi to feel things deeply is a tool to compose some of the most beautiful music covers.

Ne notices possibilities in the field of music. To compose creative and novel masterpieces like scores and soundtracks, one needs to be creative and original to come up with new rhythms and sounds. Hence, nothing can be more creative than Ne, which seeks originality and uniqueness while composing orchestral music.


3. Visual or Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart) — Se and Si

An individual who studies maps and charts, and is naturally good with directions has a high visual or spatial intelligence.

By definition,

It is the ability of an individual to visualize, interpret, and remember things in the environment.”

In other words, it emphasizes visualizing things. Hence, people with high visual intelligence are very keen and observant of their surroundings. Also, this intelligence comes in handy at solving puzzles.

The illustration of a rubik's cube.
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.

On comparing them with cognitive functions, we found that this intelligence resonates most with Se and Si due to its focus on the sensory environment.

Se is very good at observing its premises and has a detail-oriented outlook on things. It is highly sensitive to changes concerning its environment. Hence, a good Se is necessary to master this type of intelligence.

Si is very good at recalling details from a storehouse of experiences and insights. This function comes in handy to recollect the information and helps in remembering things for long. In other words, Si is significant to recall several images or patterns that can help develop spatial intelligence.


4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart) — Te and Se

Often, intelligence relates to cognitive abilities concerning mental and emotional responses. However, it is also a measure of one’s motor impulses and muscle coordination. In other words, it is called Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence.

By definition,

It is the ability of an individual to regulate and understand his body movements, physical controls and hence motor impulses to increase his muscle coordination.

This intelligence is responsible for physical fitness, agility, speed, and endurance. For this reason, one should be highly body-conscious to master this type of intelligence.

The illustration of ballet dancers.
Image by Rafael Javier from Pixabay.

On comparing it with the cognitive functions, we found that judging and perceiving functions Te and Se are naturally inclined towards good kinesthetic intelligence or body smartness.

Te helps regulates the body’s needs and ensures ample nutrients to bring structure to one’s health and fitness. Hence, it is very good at maintaining a good body shape and a positive self-image. It is also responsible for developing great muscular strength and endurance.

On the other hand, Se notices body movements necessary for impulsive, agile, and, flexible coordination. It has a keen sensitivity towards stimuli that induce lightning-fast reactions, which help in developing great speed and agility. Se is also capable of regulating motor impulses.


5. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Logic Smart) — Ti and Te

This type of intelligence is stereotypically associated with IQ assessments. It is cerebral with a set of logical frameworks that act as guidelines for an individual to follow a logical system.

However, it must not be confused with Intelligence Quotient or IQ as it considers both the subjective and objective aspects of logic, which isn’t the case with IQ.

By definition,

It is the ability of an individual to think in numerical patterns and forming relationships with the help of logic to understand the conceptual reasoning behind systems.

In other words, it focuses on solving complex problems to find solutions with the help of logical frameworks.

The illustration of a woman.
Image by Chrystal Elizabeth from Pixabay.

On comparing it with cognitive functions, we found that both the judging functions Ti and Te are well suited for undergoing logical analysis. Both use logic to analyze and understand the concepts at hand.

Te objectively analyzes and reasons out the practical principles. It favors observations and derives its understanding from real-life applications. Hence, it is useful in adopting objective logic to get a task done on time.

Ti subjectively analyzes and reasons out the conceptual principles. It favors a detailed understanding that stems from the logical framework and applies it to the environment. It also adopts subjective logic to understand and comprehend the inconsistencies within a theory or concept.


Also read: Logical Analysis: The Truth About Objective And Subjective Logic


6. Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart) — Ne and Ni

Intelligence is multidimensional, i.e., we can express it through words, phrases, or even languages. We see many people using terminologies, metaphors, idioms, and proverbs while communicating or conveying their thoughts or ideas.

But that doesn’t mean every other person who is fluent in his/her language is intelligent.

However, people who are novel and creative enough to rephrase their words and sentences possess a large vocabulary. They also enjoy reading, writing, and debating with others. In other words, it is called verbal-linguistic intelligence.

By definition,

It is the ability of an individual to use words and sentences in any language to read, write, and memorize data or information by explaining things while being specific and clear to the point.

The illustration of a multilinguist.
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

On comparing it with cognitive functions, we found that the perceiving functions Ne and Ni are highly suitable along with the judging functions in synthesizing new information.

But, the judging functions take a back seat as they do not accept information. Ne and Ni are the ones that accept information from the internal or external environment. Hence, while conveying their statements, verbally gifted people give us a glimpse of their perceiving functions rather than the judging ones.

Ne looks for possibilities while re-framing a language. This function is very creative and brainstorms various ideas at a time. It is also capable of twisting and playing with words to make the statements more figurative. Hence, Ne is a useful function for poets, writers, and storytellers.

Ni processes information and looks for patterns and possibilities internally with impressions. It can explain complex situations with expressions of speech such as analogies or metaphors that are very intellectual and philosophical.


7. Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart) — Fe and Fi

It is important to deal with society or community and form cordial bonds with them. One needs to be careful while maintaining relations as they can be tricky. Besides, it requires tact, diplomacy, and, patience to see situations from different perspectives. In other words, this type of intelligence is called Interpersonal Intelligence.

By definition,

It is the ability of an individual to understand the beliefs, motivations, and, intentions of people in a group setting and maintaining strong relations with them on an emotional framework.

The illustration of friends.
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

On comparing it with the cognitive functions, we found that the judging functions Fe and Fi are very good at establishing connections and relations with others. In simple words, both Fe and Fi are naturally good with people. However, they have different ways to deal with social situations.

Fe evaluates core beliefs and motivations to establish harmony within a community. In other words, it is very acceptable, adaptable, and diplomatic concerning the conventional society. It also supports society’s code of conduct and is very good at counseling and guiding people for a good cause.

On the other hand, Fi evaluates its core motivations and values to empathize with an individual or a community. It has an uncanny ability to understand the depth of emotional experiences (the human condition). Besides, it also comes in handy at analyzing people’s psychology and responds to them using empathy 🙂


8. Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart) — Fi and Fe

One of the rarest forms of intelligence is intrapersonal intelligence. For this reason, it is often misunderstood by society as self-awareness and introspection.

However, intrapersonal intelligence is very deep and prioritizes one’s values, beliefs, ideals, principles, and motivations. In simple words, it is the complete knowledge of self, and how this knowledge affects one’s identity and personality through self-awareness.

By definition,

It is the ability of an individual to introspect and self-reflect, thereby gaining awareness about internal evaluations of one’s personality.

Moreover, placing one’s individuality upon others and understanding them is a trait that can only be achieved through high intrapersonal intelligence.

The illustration of a girl.
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

On comparing it with cognitive functions, we found that the judging functions Fi and Fe orient towards intrapersonal intelligence. Also, with high curiosity, openness, and, introspection these functions can notice even the minute details in behavior.

Fi introspects and analyzes the rich inner experiences formed from the impressions of the external environment. In other words, it has a keen awareness of one’s emotions and ethics to make sure the inner self remains safe and intact. Hence, it is centered on self-awareness and correlates with intrapersonal intelligence.

Fe, contrary to Fi, is not focused on oneself. However, it derives its identity by interacting and taking feedback from the external world. It is also very good at motivating people for a common cause by gaining awareness of others’ goals and motivations. Hence, it maintains harmony and balance in society through intrapersonal intelligence.


9. Existential Intelligence (Life Smart) — Fi, Ti, Ni, and Ne

This intelligence emphasizes pondering existential questions. For instance, “What is the meaning of life, and how do we view ourselves in it?”

By definition,

“It is the ability of an individual to ponder deep truths, questions, and philosophies about the basis of one’s existence, and its fundamental relation with the universe.

It is also the rarest of all intelligence discussed above due to its complexity and mysticism.

The illustration of buddha.
Image by Aнатолий жуков from Pixabay.

On comparing it with cognitive functions, Fi, Ti, Ni, and Ne are very good at contemplating truths and perceptions.

Fi derives the values by comparing the outer ethical standards with inner moral experiences. It is adept at contemplating the presence of moral strength and follows the path of philosophy. Further, it derives a purpose from the principles with the help of Ne or Ni.

Like Fi, Ti compares the outer logical standards with the inner analytical experiences. It contemplates the truths of existence and tries to find the reasons behind the conceptual subjectivity of logic. Therefore, Ti dissects concepts to understand them with a logical perspective with the help of Ne or Ni.

Ni and Ne both have a rich ability to discern patterns and possibilities, whether internally or externally. Embracing rich experiences helps in discovering hidden concepts and theories that have remained uncertain for ages. Besides, it is only through these perceiving functions that we can tackle the infamous existential crises.


Final Words:

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence is criticized for lack of depth and research while labeling people under categories. Nevertheless, it can be used to understand the ability of individuals to process information and form conclusions with their perceived traits.

Compared with Jung’s cognitive function theory, it gives us a glimpse of the way this intelligence can be related to cognitive functions and doesn’t categorize or label anyone in a box. An individual can develop any kind of intelligence irrespective of his cognitive functions and characteristic traits.

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