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Analytical Intelligence: What It Is & 10 Habits to Improve It

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Summary: Analytical intelligence is all about thinking abstractly and processing information effectively. Discover why and how it can help you achieve success.

“Book smarts” is the street name for those with analytical intelligence. They’re often known to look at things from an intellectual point of view. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Whether you’re analytically inclined or if you want to level up this aspect of yourself, explore how you can truly appreciate the importance of analytical intelligence.

Understanding Sternberg’s 3 Types of Intelligence

Psychologist Robert Sternberg created the triarchic theory of intelligence in the 1980s to pursue a new way of examining human intelligence. It breaks it down into three distinct types: analytical, experiential, and practical.

What is analytical intelligence?

Those with analytical intelligence (also known as componential intelligence) are expert problem solvers. They’re able to recognize patterns, apply logic, and use deductive reasoning.

This category of intellect, according to Sternberg, is the ability to:

  • Process and apply logical reasoning
  • Identify patterns
  • Make accurate predictions about the outcome of complex events

It’s closely aligned with academics, science, and computations. And as someone who’s “book smart,” you’re able to analyze, evaluate, judge, compare, and contrast in those fields.

For instance, let’s say you’re reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. As an analytical thinker, you could easily compare the main characters’ motives or analyze the story’s context.

In psychology, analytical intelligence relates to the “mental mechanisms individuals utilize to plan and undertake academic and problem-solving tasks,” as defined by the Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. It’s closest to what’s measured on the traditional IQ test. 

And as opposed to experiential and contextual intelligence, which uses learned knowledge or experience to solve novel problems, analytical intelligence instead relies on internal mental knowledge.

What is experiential intelligence?

People with experiential intelligence (also known as creative intelligence) have a flexible mindset and can quickly adapt to their environment. They are risk takers, problem solvers, willing to be different, and think outside the box — traits that enable them to invent or imagine a novel solution to a problem or situation.

For example, let’s say something gets broken and you don’t have the right tools to fix it. If you’re able to McGuyver it, you’re using creative intelligence to solve the problem.

What is practical intelligence?

“Street smarts” is the laymen’s term for practical intelligence (also known as contextual intelligence). People with this intellect, according to Sternberg, are able to adapt quickly to unfavorable conditions and confidently navigate their surroundings.

For example, how would you react if you got lost in a new city, and what would be your plan to find your way back home? As a practical thinker, you’re able to use knowledge based on your experiences to find solutions to this particular problem. 

Woman sitting at a desk with a laptop and using analytical intelligence

Analytical Intelligence vs. Experiential Intelligence vs. Practical Intelligence

We all possess all three types of intelligence. However, we tend to lean on one rather than the rest. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of all three.

Analytical IntelligenceExperiential IntelligencePractical Intelligence
Alternative NameComponential intelligenceCreative intelligenceContextual intelligence
AbilitiesSolve problems that require a single solutionReact to new situations and able to successfully produce new ideasApply intelligence in practical, everyday situations
Key SkillsAnalyzes things from a theoretical perspective, evaluates pros and cons, explains theoretical and abstract ideas, compare and contrast ideas easily, critique ideas, see long-term solutions to complex problemsImaginative, design-oriented, appreciate newness and originality, think outside the box, problem-solverLearn by doing, utilize tools to get things done, implement ideas, enjoy problem-solving, apply knowledge, action-taker

It is possible to level up and expand beyond your intelligence comfort zone, should you wish to. So let’s dive in.

How to Use Analytical Intelligence?

Analytical thinkers are able to get to the bottom of things. They question rather than make assumptions, following the motto (most likely), “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.

Here are the abilities of those with analytical intelligence:

  • Analyze. Like detectives, analytical thinkers will dig for every bit of information on any particular issue. They go in-depth to better understand it.
  • Evaluate. Before making a conclusive decision on any given matter, they’ll go through the process of elimination.
  • Judge. Rarely will emotion sway an analytical thinker. Instead, they’ll use linear thinking to come to a sound, sensical, well-thought-out conclusion.
  • Compare and contrast. They have the ability to easily note the similarities and differences between or among ideas. This allows them to highlight important details, make abstract ideas more concrete, and reduce any confusion between related concepts.

People with analytical skills often search for information and evidence, have a logical and systematic approach to things, prefer routines, have the innate ability to concentrate, and have exceptional memory.

Examples of Analytical People

So you’re considered ‘book smart.’ What can you do with this ability?

Here are five career paths that you can get into and examples of people in that field.

#1: Mathematician

It takes critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, problem-solving, time management, and analysis to be a mathematician. Think John Nash, who won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in game theory. His work inspired the movie, The Beautiful Mind.

Many industries now rely on data, so people who’re great with numbers and analyzing complex problems definitely have a bright future ahead of them. So much so that for math occupations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 27% job growth rate between 2019 and 2029.

#2: Analyst

It’s all about gathering, interpreting, and using complex data for an analyst. They take information, analyze it, and identify trends or areas of improvement.

Remember the movie Moneyball? It’s probably one of the most definitive movies that use analytics, where the general manager of Oakland Athletics and a Yale graduate use numerical analysis and predictive modeling techniques to reinvent the team.

#3: Code breaker

A code breaker is a person who performs cryptanalysis, which is the process of deciphering coded messages without a key. They use logic and intuition to uncover or decode information.

Their abilities are important in warfare, as depicted in many combat movies, like The Imitation Game. The film highlights the life of a cryptanalyst who, with a team of code breakers, tries to decipher the code of the German enigma machine.

#4: Academic

While this occupation isn’t as demanding as solving complex mathematical problems, academics do use elements of analytical intelligence. Putting together a well-structured essay or publication involves thorough research, analyzing information, evaluating opposing arguments, and comparing and contrasting points of view.

A great example of an academic analytical thinker is Robert Langdon from Dan Brown’s series, starting with Angels & Demons. The fictional Harvard University professor uses his brilliant problem-solving mind and knowledge of religious iconology and symbology to help solve mysteries surrounding that particular subject.

#5: Director

This type of analytical occupation blends in with experiential and practical intelligence. However, a director possesses many analytical abilities, including assessing the scenes, comparing and contrasting the script’s dialogue with how the actor presents it, and seeing the film’s overall vision.

The filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock, is a great example. He became known for thrillers, having directed cinematic masterpieces like Psycho and The Birds.

Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley's Superbrain Quest
Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest

Jim Kwik’s 10 Habits to Improve Your Analytical Brain

If you want to level up, your morning routine is a great place to start. As Jim Kwik, world-renowned brain coach and trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest, says, “First you make your habits, and then, your habits make you.”

Here are 10 habits, as suggested by Jim, to implement into your morning routine.

  1. Remember your dreams. As you solve problems during your waking state, your mind continues to work on them as you sleep. So try dream journaling to recall what happens in your unconscious mind.
  1. Make your bed. Not only does it promote good hygiene, but a clean environment helps your anxiety levels, sleep quality, and ability to focus.
  1. Hydrate. While sleeping, you lose about one liter of water each night. So it’s important to drink 12-16 oz of water when you wake up.
  1. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand. Using your non-dominant arm creates more neural connections inside your brain.
  1. Deep breathing exercises. Oxygen is good for your brain and these exercises signal the brain to wind down and relax.
  1. Brain tea. Like ginkgo and lion’s mane, drink teas that help boost your focus and memory.
  1. Journaling. Many benefits come with the art of journaling, like improving cognition and boosting memory function.
  1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT).Whatever is good for your heart is usually good for your head,” says Jim. Get your heart going with three to four minutes of high-intensity exercises. 
  1. Brainpower smoothie. Put brain foods, like blueberries and avocados, into a blender and make a smoothie.
  1. Read. Jim suggests putting aside 20-30 minutes a day to read.

You might want to implement all these habits straight away, but take it slow. Routines take time to establish and research shows that adding too many changes to your current one might result in a behavior relapse. 

Supercharge Your Superbrain

Intelligence isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair. To achieve the level of success you strive for, it’s important to continue working on your growth.

As Jim says, “None of it works unless YOU work. We have to do our part. If knowing is half the battle, action is the second half of the battle.

If you need a nudge to take action, you can find that support at Mindvalley. As a member, you have full access to personal growth programs like the Superbrain Quest with Jim Kwik. 

And it’s well known that you learn better in a group. So as you go through your journey, you can share your ongoing breakthroughs and insights with the tribe, Mindvalley’s community of transformational learners. 

Great change starts with you. Welcome in.

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Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Picture of Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.

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