Key Concepts

The Splitting of Bodily and Visual Intelligences

In 1983, educator and cognitive psychologist Howard Gardner of Harvard University challenged the popular belief of intelligence being a single, mono-dimensional trait; he posited that IQ tests measured only a narrow band of the spectrum of human ability—that there was much more to intelligence than the tests were measuring. Gardner explained there was not only one way to be smart, but rather, many ways—eight in total. He labeled these abilities “Multiple Intelligences”, which are: Bodily, Interpersonal, Logical, Linguistic, Visual, Logical, Intrapersonal, and Naturalistic. Steven Rudolph has made some modifications to the Multiple Intelligences model in order to make it more practical and easier to use.

While working with his students and making use of the MNTEST to guide students into professions, Rudolph encountered limitations with the categories of Bodily Intelligence and Visual Intelligence. This led him to splitting each of these intelligences into two.

Original Term Modified Term
bodily-kinesthetic Gross Bodily Intelligence
Fine Bodily Intelligence
visual-spatial Graphic Visual Intelligence
Spatial Visual Intelligence

The reasons why Rudolph made these modifications are as follows:

Gross and Fine Bodily Intelligence

If someone had high Bodily Intelligence, it would follow that they would do well in careers that made use of their physicality, such as fitness instructors, police and military professionals, dancers, and builders. There are also other careers that require the use of the body, but specifically related to the hands: surgeons, dentists, fine artists, tailors, musicians, and horologists. What Rudolph discovered was that there were examples of people whose ability to use their body in a broad sense (such as in sports activities and dance) was high, yet, when it came to their dexterity—performing tasks that required fine motor coordination such as sewing, using hand tools, and penmanship—they were not nearly as capable. At the same time, he identified cases of the opposite: individuals who had prodigious dexterity yet lacked a sense of coordination and aptitude when it came to using their general bodily ability. He realized that differentiating between these two aspects of Bodily Intelligence (general bodily ability and fine motor ability), individuals could make far better decisions about the type of careers and work they might be better suited for. He therefore created the categories of Gross Bodily Intelligence and Fine Bodily Intelligence to account for these differences.

While these two dimensions could be attributed to different subsets of “skills” under the broad category of Bodily Intelligence, Rudolph has chosen to express them as two separate types of intelligence.


Graphic and Spatial Visual Intelligence

He also found the same to be true for the category of Visual Intelligence. What he noticed was that some people had an excellent sense of space—they could read blueprints easily, find their direction without a map, or pack numerous items into a car trunk or suitcase. But when it came to graphic-related activities such as drawing, painting, photography, and so on, they struggled significantly. And vice versa: there were some people who were gifted when it came to activities that required them to create or manipulate images or to perform tasks that required color coordination, but when it came to knowing which way was north or getting all their groceries to fit easily in their refrigerator, they felt nowhere near as competent.

In the same way, Rudolph realized that while graphic ability was paramount for people working as photographers, designers, and make-up artists, it was not nearly as critical for air-traffic controllers, mechanical engineers, athletes, drivers, and bricklayers. These individuals depended almost entirely on the spatial element.

As such, he separated created the two categories of Graphic Visual Intelligence and Spatial Visual Intelligence to account for the differences.

Again, as with Bodily Intelligence, these two dimensions could be attributed to different subsets of “skills” under the broad category of Visual Intelligence; however, Rudolph has chosen to express them as two separate types of intelligence.