Our ability to solve mathematical problems has long been considered the clearest expression of our own intelligence.

The time it took to detect mathematical patterns in series, solve a mental calculation operation or respond to geometry exercises was often measured. Today, this capacity is still very important when it comes to evaluating the cognitive abilities of human beings, but our conception of what intelligence is (or can be) has become broader.

That is why proposals such as the Theory of Multiple Intelligences have emerged, one of whose components is the Logical-mathematical intelligence formulated by psychologist Howard Gardner.

• To find out more: “The 12 types of intelligence: which do you possess?”

A Definition of Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

This type of intelligence can be defined as our capacity of formal reasoning to solve problems related to numbers and the relations that can be established between them , as well as to think following the rules of logic.

In logical-mathematical intelligence, mathematics and logic go hand in hand because thinking through both requires following the rules of a formal system , devoid of contents: one plus one equals two, whatever the units one works with, just as something that is cannot not be, regardless of what it is. In short, being equipped to a greater or lesser extent with logical-mathematical intelligence allows us to recognize and predict the causal connections between things that happen (if I add 3 units to these 5, I will get 8 because I have added them up, etc.).

The implications of the above for our way of thinking and acting are clear. Thanks to this intelligence we are able to think more or less coherently, detect regularities in the relationships between things and reason logically.

It could be said that, beyond our unique way of seeing things and using language in our own way to define the things that happen in the world, logical-mathematical intelligence allows us to embrace logical rules that make our thinking connect with that of others .

Cognitive skills beyond language

It is important to note that this type of intelligence does not directly explain our way of thinking in general, nor our use of language or interpretation of reality itself. These factors depend largely on our ideology and the use of language that characterizes us.

Logical-mathematical intelligence does not help us to question whether we are adding up the kind of units we should be adding up, for example, just as logic does not tell us which aspects of a problem we should prioritize and solve first, nor what our objectives should be. However, once certain rules are established, what remains can be evaluated as logical-mathematical intelligence.

An example: when a mathematical problem is proposed to us, we can choose whether to solve it or not and, once the rules of the statement are accepted, we can solve it well or badly . But we can also refuse to solve that problem because doing so would not be useful for our purposes, for whatever reason, or deliberately answer wrong because we do not accept the rules imposed from the beginning.

How to improve in logical-mathematical intelligence?

You’ve probably guessed that, because it’s almost obvious: facing tasks that force you to use this kind of intelligence . At first, this can be very tedious for some people, but the progress that can be made is spectacular and very useful for everyday life, especially in relation to mental computation .

You can start with notebooks to learn math at your own pace or attend specialized academies (although most of them have a college focus). You also have the option of starting practically from scratch on free training sites like the highly recommended Khan Academy, where you can measure your progress and choose the branches of learning you want.

One of the keys: logical thinking

As for the part that refers to logical thinking, you may find it more enjoyable at the beginning, since the best way to develop it is to dialogue and discuss by means of arguments, taking care not to fall into fallacies .

Something that is typical, for example, of any bar night or Christmas dinner with the family, but can be generalized to many other moments in your life. To get a handle on how logic works, you can look for books of your choice that deal with logic and logical fallacies.

Bibliographic references:

• Gardner, Howard. (1998). A Reply to Perry D. Klein’s ‘Multiplying the problems of intelligence by eight’. Canadian Journal of Education 23 (1): 96-102. doi:10.2307/1585968. JSTOR 1585790.
• Operskalski, O. T., Paul, E. J., Colom, R., Barbey, A. K., Grafman, J. (2015). Injury Mapping the Four-Factor Structure of Emotional Intelligence. Front. Hum. Neurosci.
• Triglia, Adrian; Regader, Bertrand; and Garcia-Allen, Jonathan (2018). “What is intelligence? From the IQ to multiple intelligences”. EMSE Publishing.