The Disadvantages of Intrapersonal Intelligence

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Intrapersonal intelligence is one of eight types of primary intelligence theorized by the psychologist Howard Gardner, whose theory describes the different ways in which individuals specialize in learning and processing information. A person with high intrapersonal intelligence is skilled in recognizing and addressing her own ideas, goals and feelings. However, while intrapersonal intelligence is useful for introspection and long-term decision-making, it can pose difficulties when communicating or working with others.

1 Solitary Learning Style

People with high intrapersonal intelligence are often referred to as "solitary learners." They pick up and absorb information best when they have time alone in a quiet environment to concentrate on their thoughts. Because of this, they may appear shy, aloof or standoffish. Their social lives may suffer when they are working on a project or studying for an exam, since they need additional time by themselves to complete their work. Note that this does not mean that intrapersonally intelligent individuals are loners or socially unskilled; rather, their learning style and way of processing information often requires them to spend large periods of time alone.

2 Motivation Issues

Intrapersonally intelligent people are skilled at knowing what they want and judging whether their current actions are helping them achieve their goals. However, this focus can also work against them. For instance, when an intrapersonal individual is unable to see how an activity relates to his goals or interests, he is likely to become disconnected and uninvolved. He might have to spend time reflecting or analyzing the activity to determine how it is connected to him. For this reason, activities such as daily affirmations and keeping a diary are useful for intrapersonally intelligent persons. These techniques allow them to focus and relate their daily lives to themselves and their goals.

3 Sensitivity to Groups and Noise

The solitary learning style also may make certain environments difficult for the intrapersonally intelligent individual to focus in. Because the intrapersonally intelligent learn through solitary thought and reflection, being in large groups of individuals or loud environments can cause them to become distracted. To collect their thoughts, they need private space and a lack of noise. However, since they can easily lose focus while doing busy work, seeking out other solitary learners can be beneficial so that they can check up on each other and make sure they get the minutiae of their work done.

4 Lengthy Decision-Making

Intrapersonally intelligent individuals know what they want and are highly motivated to pursue it over the long term. As long as they concentrate on this goal, they are capable of maintaining focus over an extended period of time. However, this does not mean that they achieve their goals quickly. They may hesitate to make decisions or request extra time to reflect on suggestions or new ideas.

This extra time is needed for the intrapersonally intelligent to review a plan or suggestion and figure out what they think or feel about it. This time can be frustrating for individuals with different learning styles who make decisions quickly, and can leave an intrapersonally intelligent person flustered in scenarios where fast turnaround is needed.

Jon Zamboni began writing professionally in 2010. He has previously written for The Spiritual Herald, an urban health care and religious issues newspaper based in New York City, and online music magazine eBurban. Zamboni has a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Wesleyan University.