Performance 5 min read

3 Ways To Turn Visual Spatial Intelligence Into Your Superpower

by Shannon Terrell November 19, 2018

Have you ever noticed how some people are able to find their way without a map or directions?

They seem to possess a sixth sense when it comes to orienting themselves in real time. They can visualize everything in their mind’s eye without actually having to see it.

This is called visual-spatial intelligence. And it’s one of Howard Gardner’s nine types of intelligence.

What’s spatial intelligence good for and how can you know if you’ve got it? We’ll show you how to test for spatial awareness and how you can learn to develop yours.

In this article we will answer the following questions:

  1. Spatial intelligence according to Gardner?
  2. What is visual-spatial intelligence good for?
  3. 3 Tips to improve your spatial intelligence

Let’s begin!

What Is Spatial Intelligence According To Gardner?


Howard Gardner is an American developmental psychologist. He first proposed his theory of multiple intelligences in the 1980s. According to Gardner, there are nine types of intelligence. And spatial intelligence is on the list.

Gardner defined spatial intelligence as the intelligence of visual thinking. People with this form of intelligence can manipulate three-dimensional shapes in their mind’s eye. They’re able to recognize patterns, identify fine details, and have excellent observational skills.

 visual spacial intelligence

How to define spatial

To truly understand spatial intelligence, we need to understand what the word spatial means.

The word spatial means relating to space, or, the perception of objects in space. It comes from the Latin spatium, for space.

What is an example of spatial intelligence?

For a prime example of spatial intelligence at work, look no further than the work of an architect.

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An architect must design a physical structure by hand. From the ground up, architects create three-dimensional representations so accurate and well-detailed that their designs can literally become a reality.

That’s some serious spatial intelligence at work!

What Is Visual-Spatial Intelligence Good For?


So, what can you use visual-spatial intelligence for in your own life?

Spatial intelligence can help you become an expert navigator. You’re better able to read maps, follow directions, and stay oriented in your surroundings no matter where you are.

Spatial intelligence can also help improve your drawing and painting skills. It can help you pick up on small visual details that others miss and improve your memory and cognitive problem-solving abilities.

What is a spatial IQ test?

Curious to know how strong your spatial skills are? A spatial IQ test might be able to help.

Spatial IQ tests put your spatial reasoning and visual thinking to the test. You’ll be asked to assess a number of images and perform 3D manipulations in your mind’s eye to find the correct answer.

See how well you score on a spatial IQ test to see how strong your visual thinking truly is.

spatial reasoning

3 Tips To Improve Your Spatial Intelligence


Spatial intelligence is a skill. And like any other skill, it can be strengthened.

Everyone is capable of using spatial reasoning and visualization techniques. But if you feel like your spatial intelligence could be improved, there are several tips and tricks you can use.

Learning is your superpower.

-Jim Kwik, Author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Program

All our behavior is driven by when we believe about ourselves. Believe you have the ability to strengthen your mind, and you can and will make it happen.

So, here are three ways to improve your spatial intelligence:

1. Play a game

Games like chess, Jenga — even Legos, can help you build your spatial intelligence. Planning ahead is a big component of spatial intelligence, so play games that allow you to exercise this ability and manipulate 3D objects.

2. Solve a 3D puzzle

The Rubiks Cube is hands down one of the best ways to build spatial reasoning. It requires you to not only move the cube but to think ahead to successfully solve the puzzle.

Try your hand at a 3D puzzle like a Rubiks Cube and see how you make out!

3. Navigate without a map

These days, so many of us rely on our mobile devices to get us to where we need to go. If you really want to work on your spatial skills, try navigating yourself from point A to point B without GPS guidance.

Review the route you plan to take ahead of time, then see if you can successfully get yourself to where you’re headed with spatial intelligence.

If you get lost, don’t sweat it. It’s all just a part of the process!


Do you have trouble remembering names?

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What’s your favorite way to put your visual thinking skills to the test? Let us know in the comments below.

by Shannon Terrell
Shannon Terrell is a writer based in Toronto, Canada. She revels in the thrill of exploration, whether it be new cultures, new landscapes, or new ways to bring on the happy. If she’s not hiking or practicing yoga, she probably has her nose in a book.

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