What Is Intrapersonal Intelligence?

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Last Update Date: 12 April 2021

What did Socrates, Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi have in common? We know that you have science or philosophy in mind, but that’s not the answer we’re looking for.

They and many of the names that led to the changing of the world had a type of intelligence called intrapersonal intelligence.

But there's more. So, read on to discover what intrapersonal intelligence is and how it can benefit your life.

intrapersonal intelligence

Definition of Intrapersonal Intelligence

Intrapersonal meaning is defined as ‘within a person’; that is, taking place within one person's self or mind. It's not to be confused with interpersonal, which refers to something occurring ‘between people’.

Hence, intrapersonal intelligence is the capacity to explore one's inner world and feelings. This type of intelligence can help a person focus on planning and managing their life.

NOTE: Children with high intrapersonal intelligence potential have an idea of what they want to achieve and how they can achieve it. Children with intrapersonal intelligence often score higher on tests of other types of intelligence too.

For example, someone with intrapersonal intelligence, such as Albert Einstein or Socrates, may also have the potential for improved verbal and numerical intelligence.

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In 1983, developmental psychologist Howard Gardner defined these 8 different types of intelligence and learning styles according to the multiple intelligence theory:

According to Gardner's theory, intelligence is not a steady phenomenon. People can hold different types and levels of intelligence.

A person with advanced potential in mathematical intelligence will understand the world through mathematics, whereas intrapersonal intelligence provides the chance to see the world from a different angle.

According to Gardner, a person who cannot master mathematics cannot be considered as less successful or intelligent than someone who can.

On the other hand, Gardner's theory also has some drawbacks. For example, it is very difficult to know exactly how many different kinds of intelligence areas there are. Likewise, we cannot speak of a standard intelligence test or an intrapersonal intelligence test that can reveal these types of intelligence.

Recommendation: We have mentioned the types of intelligence above that are accepted according to multiple intelligence theory. However, if you would like to know more about the theory of intelligence and the types of intelligence, please click on the link below.

Multiple Intelligence Theory and Intelligence Types

What Are the Characteristics of People With Intrapersonal Intelligence?

The journey to know and understand others for people with intrapersonal intelligence starts with knowing themselves. Only after getting to know oneself will one have a chance to understand other people, their inner worlds and thoughts.

We cannot define people with intrapersonal intelligence as narcissistic people. Narcissism is categorised as a personality disorder, while intrapersonal intelligence is not a disorder. In addition, people with intrapersonal intelligence are concerned with the environment around them, not just with themselves.

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Individuals with high intrapersonal intelligence potential are highly motivated to apply what they learn to their daily lives. These people are often very determined to achieve their goals.

Here are some additional characteristics of people with intrapersonal intelligence:

  • They start getting to know other people by getting to know themselves.
  • They enjoy being alone and dealing with something alone.
  • Their intuition is strong.
  • Although they are aware of their strengths, they often do not boast about it.
  • They are independent and have high self-confidence.
  • They can control many feelings, especially anger.
  • Young people may be more introverted compared to their peers.
  • They like to process the events they’ve experienced.
  • They seek to understand their own mistakes in any negative events they have experienced in order to avoid similar situations in the future.
  • They tend to express their feelings and thoughts in creative ways such as through writing or music.
  • Development is almost guaranteed for people with high intrapersonal intelligence potential. They constantly look for new life philosophies and ways to improve themselves.

Difference Between Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligence

When it comes to drawing the lines of intrapersonal intelligence, it is necessary to compare its features with those of interpersonal intelligence.

The difference between interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence is as follows:

Intrapersonal Intelligence Interpersonal Intelligence
Skills Visualisation
Recognising negativity
Decision making
Conflict management
Definition Something that reflects within oneself Something that reflects between people
Concerned with Thought and analysis Exchange of ideas
Tools Mind, diaries, other mediums of self-expressions In person and via communication tools
Feedback Individual feedback Feedback from other people

5 Useful Tips to Develop Intrapersonal Intelligence

As Howard Gardner said, “Everything worth learning can be taught in different ways. The diversity of these methods stimulates multiple intelligence.

By using effective learning tools and exercises, you can always develop your cognitive potential in different ways.

Children with intrapersonal intelligence are aware of their intelligence. They know what goals they want to achieve and what they need to do to achieve them. They learn from their mistakes and often enjoy individual work.

How is intrapersonal intelligence developed? What needs to be done to develop intrapersonal intelligence potential? Here are some development suggestions for those who want to improve their intrapersonal intelligence.

1. Keep a diary

A diary can help you see what's going on around you from a different angle. Routinely keeping a diary also helps create awareness. If it seems old school to write a diary, it can also be logged using a voice recorder.

“Writing in a diary reminds you of your goals and learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.” - Robin Sharma

2. Take thinking breaks

Thinking is one of the greatest abilities of mankind. You can develop your intrapersonal intelligence with short thought breaks. It doesn't matter what you think about. You will be shocked by the impact of thought journeys during your short breaks in a day.

3. Consider all types of intelligence

If we use Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, we can say that one person can be successful in more than one intelligence field. Apart from your intrapersonal intelligence, you can improve yourself in many areas, especially visual and verbal intelligence.

“Although I have worked on many subjects and written books, I have never lost interest in multiple types of intelligence.” - Howard Gardner

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4. Develop social hobbies

Intrapersonal intelligence does not only apply to a person’s inner thoughts and feelings; people with high intrapersonal intelligence can also understand other people's feelings and thoughts, which is a very important leadership trait.

Children with high intrapersonal intelligence potential may have difficulty adapting to social settings, but this is the kind of problem that can be overcome with social hobbies. More involvement in social communities and emotional intelligence activities can help manage and eventually eliminate social anxiety.

5. Be involved in personal development activities or read books

We have mentioned that children with high intrapersonal intelligence may constantly seek to develop themselves. To support them, you can encourage your child towards personal development activities and age-appropriate personal development books.

Child-friendly workshops are great social activities for personal development. With this type of education, children develop the right skillset for Education 4.0.

5 Examples of Intrapersonal Intelligence

Howard Gardner gives Virginia Woolf as an example of famous people with intrapersonal intelligence. This is a tangible conclusion he makes after reading the writer's essay called "A Sketch of the Past," which demonstrates her ability to look inward, examine deep feelings, and articulate them in a way that other people can understand.

Here are 5 of intrapersonal intelligence examples:

1. Intuition

It is the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.

2. Self-Direction

It is defined as personal independence, self-reliance and self-sufficiency and the freedom from control or influence of others.

3. Imagination

Imagination is the faculty or action of forming new ideas, images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

4. Creativity

Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.

5. Personal Resilience

Personal resilience means the ability to use thoughts and actions that promote personal wellbeing and mental health. People can develop the ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from stress by using effective coping strategies.

Famous People with Intrapersonal Intelligence

Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud is the founder of psychoanalysis.

Sigmund Freud

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates is one of the founders of Western philosophy.


American political figure, diplomat and activist Eleanor Roosevelt worked for political, racial and social justice.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer Mahatma Gandhi is the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India.

Mahatma Gandhi

Helen Adams Keller was an American author, disability rights advocate, political activist and lecturer.

Helen Adams Keller

Anne Frank was a German-Dutch diarist of Jewish heritage. She became a young Holocaust victim whose childhood diary became one of the most poignant records of the Nazi era.

Anne Frank

Greek philosopher and polymath Aristotle is the founder of the Lyceum, the Peripatetic school of philosophy, and the Aristotelian tradition.


German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the most influential modern thinkers.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist, acknowledged as one of the greatest physicists of all time.

Albert Einstein

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a Turkish field marshal, revolutionary statesman, author, and the founding father of the Republic of Turkey.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Possible Careers for People With Intrapersonal Intelligence

Thanks to great examples of intrapersonal intelligence, such as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Aristotle, Socrates, Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Einstein, we have seen how people with this type of intelligence have changed the course of history. Thanks to their imagination, intuition, creativity, and other features that come with intrapersonal intelligence, they have accomplished great things and made their mark in the world. Now, let’s have a look at jobs for intrapersonal people.

Some of the most ideal intrapersonal intelligence careers include:

  • Author
  • Poet
  • Thespian
  • Philosopher
  • Religious leader
  • Private trainer
  • Computer-assisted instructor
  • Police and other security forces units
  • Lawyer
  • Politician
  • Entrepreneur
  • Farmer
  • Historian
  • Inventor
  • Librarian
  • Philosopher
  • Psychologist
  • Scientist
  • Theologian
  • Consultant
  • Researcher
  • Theorist

The above examples can be used as an ideal list for people with intrapersonal intelligence. But you should never forget that our brain functions across more than one intelligence type. So you or your child can have high potential in other types and have a successful career in different fields as well.