Howard Earl Gardner

An American psychologist, educator, and creator of the theory of multiple intelligence.

Howard Gardner.

Howard Gardner.
(© AP Photo/Paco Paredes)

Gardner received his B.A. summa cum laude in social relations from Harvard College in 1965 and his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 1971. At Harvard, he studied with the renowned developmental psychologists Jerome Bruner (1915–) and Erik Erikson (1902–94), and the philosopher Nelson Goodman (1906–98). He had thought he would research children and their artistic abilities but became fascinated with neuropsychology after attending a lecture on the subject given by Norman Geschwind (1926–84), a well-known neuropsychologist. Gardner later did a postdoctoral fellowship under Geschwind at the Boston Veterans Hospital where he worked for 20 years.

Gardner's research has focused for the most part on the nature of human intelligence, the nature of and development of abilities in the arts and how they relate to and reflect intelligence, and on educational processes. For many years, Gardner conducted research in symbolusing capacities in normal and gifted children and in adults who had experienced brain damage. Through his efforts to bring these two areas of work together, he developed his theory of multiple types of intelligence, which he introduced in Frames of Mind (1983).

Drawing on research in neuropsychology, Gardner proposed that there are eight distinct types of intelligence, each based in a different area of the brain. This theory contradicts the idea that intelligence is one general factor that underlies different abilities, which was the dominant belief upon which most intelligence tests had been based. These eight types of intelligence are spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.

In the mid-1980s Gardner became involved in efforts to reform schools in the United States. He started teaching in the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986. In the mid-1980s, he became senior director of Harvard Project Zero. Project Zero is a research group that studies human cognition, focusing on the arts in particular. Among other subjects, he and his colleagues worked on designing performance-based tests and using the theory of multiple types of intelligence to create more individualized teaching and testing methods. He also became involved in carrying out long-term case studies of successful leaders and creators. One aspect of this work investigated the relationship between a person's production of exemplary work and the individual's personal values.

As of 2015, Gardner was the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor in Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In addition he was adjunct professor of psychology at Harvard University.

Gardner has written close to 500 research articles and authored/co-authored more than 30 books. In The Mind's New Science (1985) Gardner discussed how cognitive science has the potential to understand creativity. Two later books, The Unschooled Mind (1991) and Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice (1993) explain how his perspectives can be put into practice in education. Gardner, with the help of his colleagues, began to study the influence of new digital media, publishing The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in the Digital World in 2013 and Mind, Work, and Life in 2014.

Gardner is married to Ellen Winner. He was divorced from the well-respected developmental psychologist, educator, and author Judith (Krieger) Gardner, who died in 1994. Gardner has four children.

See also Culture-fair test ; Emotional intelligence .



Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books, 1983.

Gardner, Howard. On the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Basic Books, 2011.

Gardner, Howard, and Katie Davis. The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013.


Davis, Katie, and Howard Gardner. “Five Minds Our Children Deserve: Why They're Needed, How to Nurture Them.” Journal of Educational Controversy 6, no. 1 (2012): Article 10. Available online at (accessed July 24, 2015.

Mucinskas, Daniel, and Howard Gardner. “Educating for Good Work: From Research to Practice.” British Journal of Educational Studies 61, no. 4 (2013): 453–70.


Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Howard Gardner.” (accessed July 24, 2015). “About: Biography of Howard Gardner.” (accessed July 24, 2015).

Strauss, Valerie. “Howard Gardner: ‘Multiple Intelligences’ are not ‘Learning Styles’.” (accessed July 24, 2015).