• Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence – One of the Multiple Intelligences by Gardner

    • February 1, 2021
    Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence – One of the Multiple Intelligences by Gardner

    Have you ever wondered how some people like athletes, dancers, and instrumentalists are so skillful in utilizing their bodies and manipulating objects?

    If talent comes to your mind (and of course practice) — maybe you should reconsider calling it intelligence — bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, one of 9 multiple intelligence.

    In 1983, Howard Gardner, a Harvard developmental psychologist, proposed the theory of multiple intelligences in his book Frames of Mind. He questioned the old notion of intelligence as a single entity as represented in IQ tests and presented 8 different bits of intelligence (and added more in his later works). These intelligence include:

    1. Linguistic Intelligence (word smart)
    2. Interpersonal Intelligence (people smart)
    3. Intrapersonal Intelligence (self smart)
    4. Naturalist Intelligence (nature smart)
    5. Visual-Spatial (picture smart)
    6. Logical-mathematical (number/reasoning smart)
    7. Bodily-kinesthetic (body smart)
    8. Musical (sound smart)

    Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence is one of them that depicts the full range of human intelligence. Let’s understand it in detail.

    What Is Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence?

    Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to use one’s body skillfully for expressive or goal-directed purposes.

    An example of this intelligence can be seen in dancers and athletes who have a knack for using the motions of their bodies.

    And it’s not just the use of the body but maneuvering objects as done by artisans and instrumentalists that’s considered as kinesthetic intelligence.

    These two capacities  — skillful control of the body and handling objects are the core of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

    Gardner also highlighted that our mental functions are related to physical activities. We use our mental ability to direct and coordinate our bodily movements. Parts of our brain along with the kinesthetic sense allows us to master the actions, force, timing, and various muscular and motor actions. 

    Examples of Kinesthetic Intelligence

    The primary characteristic of kinesthetic intelligence is to skillfully use the body or handle objects for expressive as well as goal-directed purposes. We often see many professions that require this ability. Here are some of the examples of this intelligence.

    Actors, Mime Artists

    Actors and mime artists require to perform through facial and bodily moments. This ability to finely recreate scenes and feelings using body is an example of kinesthetic intelligence. 


    Another example are instrumentalists that depict precise moment and control of their motor moments — thumbs and fingers — to produce music. This skill of maneuvering musical instruments requires a great command over kinesthetic senses.


    A dancer posses the skills to precisely execute the body actions in the right shape and right time. It’s the bodily intelligence that they use as a form of expression. 


    Athletes are another major example that highlights bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. They have the ability to use the body with grace, strength, speed, and agility to achieve an end goal. Although physical genetics plays an important role in sports, without the highly-developed kinesthetic sense well-executed bodily motions can’t be attained.  

    It’s important to note that all examples depict more than one intelligence as performing them requires several intellectual domains.

    For example, an actor can not perform without linguistic or musical intelligence. Or an athlete must also utilize logical skills to strategize, spatial intelligence to recognize patterns, and interpersonal intelligence to sense and motivate the team.

    Kinesthetic Intelligence and Learning 

    Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence is widely popular and discussed in the field of education. It has been used to improve the pedagogy and school-based practices to better understand the student’s ability and improve education. However, it is often combined and misinterpreted as learning styles. 

    “…the concept of intelligences was often conflated with that of learning styles; in fact, an intelligence (the computing power of an individual’s musical or spatial or interpersonal capacity) is not at all the same as a style (the way in which one allegedly approaches a range of tasks).”

    — Howard Gardner

    Similarly, kinesthetic intelligence is different from the kinesthetic style of learning. While intelligence is one of the human intellectual abilities, kinesthetic learning is the way individual approaches various tasks. 

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