Naturalistic Intelligence: What Does It Consist of and What Is It For?

What is naturalistic intelligence and what is it for? What relationship does it have with nature? What famous people could we say had it very developed? Find out!

Thanks to the psychologist and pedagogue Howard Gardner, we were able to know that there was not only one type of intelligence, but rather eight! Until that moment, the attention had been taken by logical-mathematical intelligence and linguistics (especially in schools and in intelligence assessments). Fortunately, today we know that there are many more; one of them is naturalistic intelligence.

This type of intelligence has to do with our ability to relate to the environment and its elements; It allows us to observe nature, understand it, classify and organize it, in addition to establishing relationships between its elements (flora and fauna, for example).

It is surely one of the least known, and above all, one of the least valued at an academic level. However, as we will see, it is surely intelligence that helped our ancestors better understand their environment and survive. Know this and other curious facts about her, here!

Naturalistic intelligence: what does it consist of and what is it for?

Naturalistic intelligence is part of the theory of multiple intelligences proposed by the psychologist and pedagogue Howard Gardner (United States, 1943), a theory developed and disseminated in the 1980s. Specifically, the theory dates from 1983, but it was not until in 1995 when naturalistic intelligence was added to the model.

What does the concept of naturalistic intelligence refer to? It is about the ability to categorize elements of the environment, recognizing their differences and the way in which they relate to each other, in order to use that information to interact with these elements in a beneficial way.

On the other hand, the connections and relationships that this type of intelligence allows us with the elements of the environment, can help us to improve the interaction we have with said environment. In reality, this concept encompasses the urban, suburban and rural context, that is, not only the “natural environment”.

Objective: survive

The intelligence Naturalist is probably the one that helped our history to evolve, to adapt to the environment, to exert influence on him and, ultimately, to survive. In fact, for these reasons, some experts have placed its origin in the Paleolithic era.

Beyond the fact of surviving, today this intelligence allows us to better understand nature and develop hierarchies within the natural systems themselves, very useful for according to which fields of knowledge (for example in biology).

Famous with naturalistic intelligence

Who possesses (or rather, possessed) a high naturalistic intelligence? For example the naturalistic scientist Charles Darwin (Shrewsbury, 1809 - Down House, 1882), or the geographer and naturalist Friedrich Heinrich Alexander (Berlin, 1769 - 1859).

These authors were able to enter natural environments and learn from them, identifying their animal and plant species, learning their defining characteristics and using the information for their own benefit and that of society. And that's exactly what naturalistic intelligence is about.

Defining characteristics

In Gardner's definition of naturalistic intelligence, much emphasis is placed on the type of information that is worked with from this intelligence (and not so much on what is done with that information). Yes, it is true that this intelligence is spoken of as a process, but above all of the specific content that can be treated through it.

These contents refer, as we have said, to the elements of nature, to the anatomical characteristics of each of the plants and animals that we observe, etc. Thus, we will activate naturalistic intelligence when we are faced with a natural environment or with a space with different forms of life and living beings.

Processes involved

What mental processes are activated when we use naturalistic intelligence? Mainly observation, selective and sustained attention, classification and categorization skills, making inferences and identifying relationships, as well as the formulation of hypotheses related to the environment.

On the other hand, it is a type of intelligence that allows us to experiment and orient ourselves towards nature, which in turn can help us to know it better and value it more. That is, if we get a little philosophical, naturalistic intelligence is also related to the appreciation of beauty and love for the environment.

"Keep your love for nature, because it is the true way of understanding art more and more." -Vincent van Gogh-

Overlap with the other intelligences?

Naturalistic intelligence could overlap, in some cases, with other types of intelligence proposed by Gardner. For example, in the case of linguistic intelligence; Is it true that we use the latter to conceptualize the identified elements, even if they come from nature?

On the other hand, the logical intelligence -matemática allows us to understand the hierarchies and categorizacione s that have put together thanks to the naturalist intelligence. As we can see, these last two could even be complemented. Finally, to give another example, in the case of spatial intelligence, it would help us to apply all the knowledge "obtained" thanks to naturalistic intelligence, in a specific environment and in real time.

In short, naturalistic intelligence is by no means one of the best known, but it is undoubtedly one of the ones that most influenced our ancestors when it came to surviving and adapting to the environment. As a curious fact, although many areas are involved at the brain level to exercise it, it is generally considered that it is more related to the right hemisphere than to the left.

"Nature never rushes. Atom by atom, little by little he gets his job done ”. -Ralph Waldo Emerson-