As parents, most of us were lucky enough to grow up when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was on TV regularly. Not only did this give us a glimpse into the goings on in the Land of Make-Believe (King Friday XIII was always up to something), the show also contained some valuable lessons involving intrapersonal intelligence — or, our ability to identify and explore our own thoughts and feelings.
Of course, that’s not how it was packaged for children, but a lot of Fred Rogers’ songs and segments where he’d directly address his television neighbors involved talking about feelings. For instance, he’d sing about what it feels like to be angry, which included lyrics on what a person might do if they’re mad, how they might handle these feelings, and a reminder that they don’t last forever. And while your child’s school report cards give you insight into how they work and play with others, it may not say much about how well they understand themselves. Here’s what you need to know about intrapersonal intelligence, including whether there are intrapersonal intelligence tests you can take, and what multiple intelligences tests can tell us about how our kids’ brains work.
What is intrapersonal intelligence?
Basically, intrapersonal intelligence is how well you understand yourself. Intrapersonal intelligence is one of the distinct intelligences in Dr. Howard Gardner’s multiple-intelligences theory, which looks at intelligence as something made up of eight different categories (the other seven are linguistic, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, naturalist, interpersonal, and spatial). Gardner defines intrapersonal intelligence as involving “the capacity to understand oneself, to have an effective working model of oneself — including one’s own desires, fears, and capacities — and to use information effectively in regulating one’s own life.”
People with intrapersonal intelligent usually are very self-motivated, introverted, and enjoy spending time alone. They typically work independently and have a knack for filling journals. These kinds of thinkers spend a lot of time doing introspection and are very good at quieting their inner thoughts to meditate. Managing their emotions and bringing certain moods to the surface to achieve a goal is second nature and they are absolute pros at developing strategies, plans, critical analysis, and finding solutions to problems. Intrapersonal tinkers are also very good at choosing their own path without the validation of others.
Are there any tests for it?
This is a tricky one. Given that the main characteristics of intrapersonal intelligence involve being able to reflect on and assess your own thoughts and behavior, a person with lower levels of intrapersonal intelligence may not be able to accurately complete a self-assessment. Though there isn’t a standard intrapersonal intelligence test, reading the traits and characteristics of someone with intrapersonal intelligence (like the ones described below) can give you an idea of what to look for in yourself, your child, or someone else. There are, however, ways to assess a person’s intrapersonal skills — specifically by taking a look at their adaptability, self-management, and self-development.
Can you improve your intrapersonal intelligence?
Actually, you can! In fact, this is a lot of what happens when a person is working with a therapist: learning new skills and techniques to help you notice, identify, and understand yourself and your motivations. And although this is something many people don’t really recognize until adulthood, there are ways to help develop intrapersonal intelligence in kids. Scholastic provides the following activities and exercises for teachers and parents who want to foster intrapersonal intelligence and skills in kids:
- Writing reflective papers on content-area topics
- Penning essays from the perspective of historical figures, such as Civil War soldiers or suffragettes
- Creating a literary autobiography, reflecting on their reading life
- Tracking goals for the future and planning ways to achieve them
- Keeping journals or logs throughout the year
- Making a scrapbook for their poems, papers, and reflections
- Creating and completing individual projects
- Writing an autobiography
- Participating in a new hobby or setting a new goal with action plans and steps
- Revaluating your own work
- Analyzing text-to-self connections
- Independent reading
- Writing from different points of view
Adults looking to improve their own intrapersonal intelligence can find plenty of materials and resources on how to be more introspective. If you’re not sure where to start, ask yourself these 70 self-reflective questions.
What are some examples?
Those with intrapersonal intelligence are particularly good at self-reflection and introspection, but are not completely absorbed with themselves: they also care about the world around them and how to best fit into it. According to VeryWell Mind and MentalUp, here are some common traits of people with intrapersonal intelligence:
- Ability to analyze their strengths and weaknesses well
- Enjoy analyzing theories and ideas
- Have excellent self-awareness
- Understand the basis for his or her own motivations and feelings
- Exploring relationships with others
- Can easily apply what they have learned to their own lives
- Strong intuition
- Can control their own feelings, especially anger
- Being independent and having high self-confidence
- Seeking to understand their own mistakes in any negative events they have experienced in order to avoid similar situations in the future
- Tendency to express their feelings and thoughts in creative ways, like through writing or music
- Constantly looking for new things to learn and new ways to improve themselves
What careers are ideal for people with intrapersonal intelligence?
Quintessential introspects, people with this type of intelligence are adept at looking inward. They enjoy learning about what makes others tick. But because they’re also very self-aware, careers that allow them to work alone are often appealing. Those with high intrapersonal intelligence might pursue jobs as:
- Program planners
- Clergy members
- Program planner
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