By: Hannah Rackham
People want to feel “smart” and believe that they are “smart” and to some degree, everyone wants other people to recognize and acknowledge that he or she is “smart.” Oftentimes, even as early as elementary school, some people get labeled as “smart” while others may be labeled “athletic” or “musical” or “popular” as if somehow a person can’t fit into several categories. Educational psychologist Howard Gardner proposed a theory about intelligence that encompasses several kinds of “smart” and therefore defines more people as “smart.” This theory, known as multiple intelligence (MI) theory, revolutionizes the narrow way we think about ourselves and about our students. Recently, for a final project, I investigated the subject a little further and found some interesting results.
In order to get a smattering of samples across the varying intelligences, I posted a link to a specific MI test on my Facebook page and asked my friends via cyberspace to help me out by taking four minutes to take the test and send me their results. For a last-minute, rather half-baked idea the response was phenomenal! Within 20 minutes, I had a dozen replies. Over the next few hours, more than 30 people sent me their test results. After the project was long done and presented, people were still sending me their scores. One of my friends re-posted my link on her page because she was so excited about it. In face-to-face conversations with friends since then I’ve learned that many of them took the test without sending in results. (I wasn’t offended since I had WAY more data than I needed or was expecting.)
Of course the results were interesting, but almost more intriguing to me was the fact that so many were eager to report. People want to feel “smart” and have others recognize that they are “smart.” If I’d posted an IQ test of similar length, I doubt results would have flown in that fast. IQ tests are based on comparison with others; MI tests are based on comparison with yourself. IQ juxtaposes your strengths and weaknesses with others’ strengths and weaknesses. MI juxtaposes your own relative strengths and weaknesses against each other. Somehow, for me at least (and likely for the 30+ people eager to share their test results with me), it’s easier to feel “smart” by focusing on internal rather than external competition. Interesting, isn’t it?
Following are some of the results I found. If you’re interested, here’s the link for this particular test.