Analytical intelligence is the ability to analyze, evaluate, and think critically. We compare it to practical and creative intelligences within Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence.
Analytical intelligence includes abilities such as being able to conduct a compare and contrast analysis of a subject or viewpoint.
The abilities to critique and judge various aspects of a subject matter are also attributes of analytical intelligence. In addition, analytical intelligence can involve the ability to assess and evaluate.
The subject under analysis can range from a piece of art, to solving a complex scientific problem. The subject of study can be just about anything. It is the exercise of analytical abilities that are crucial according to Sternberg.
Definition of Analytical Intelligence
According to Sternberg, there are three core components of intelligence: analytical, practical, and creative. These three components form his triarchic theory of intelligence.
The analytical component is defined by Howard et al (2001, p. 49) this:
“Analytic abilities are those needed to analyze, evaluate, explain, and compare or contrast.”
Each intelligence has its own pros and cons. For analytical thinkers, we think of them as the good student at school. They’re academically minded and good at theoretical ideas. Here is Howard et al again:
“The stereotype for students high in analytic abilities is that of the “good student”—that is, such students have been found to excel at the kinds of tasks fostered and reinforced within the United States school system”
What Analytical Intelligence Looks Like
Common analytical intelligences include:
- You are good at analyzing things from a theoretical perspective
- You are good at evaluating the pros and cons of things
- You can explain theoretical and abstract ideas
- You can compare and contrast ideas with ease
- You are good at critiquing ideas
- You can see long-term solutions to complex problems
Analytical vs Practical vs Creative Intelligences
|Analytical Intelligence Examples
|Creative Intelligence Examples
|Practical Intelligence Examples
|You can utilize tools to get things done
|You like to compose and collate
|You like to implement ideas
|You can explain things well
|You enjoy discovering new things
|You enjoy problem-solving
|You can critique ideas
|You are highly imaginative
|You want to know how to apply knowledge to real-life
|You are good at categorizing things
|You are highly inventive
|You are an action-taker and feel good completing tasks
12 Great Jobs for Analytical People
1. Financial Analyst
If you are looking for a low-stress occupation that doesn’t require advanced problem-solving skills, then don’t try to become a financial analyst. This profession is one of the most pressure-packed occupations in modern times.
A financial analyst gives investment advice and manages the money of very wealthy individuals and institutions. It requires the ability to analyze large amounts of extremely complicated data, using some of the most advanced statistical software programs ever invented.
The stakes are incredibly high, and a single miscalculation can result in the loss of tens of millions of dollars; and probably the loss of a job as well. Being a financial analysist is a prototypical example of analytical intelligence.
2. Pharmaceutical Chemist
Another occupation that requires tremendous critical-thinking skills is a pharmaceutical chemist.
A pharmaceutical chemist works in the R&D department of a large, well-funded company that studies and develops medications.
This includes drug discovery, delivery methods, and absorption mechanisms. The work involves biomedical analysis and pharmacology, plus a thorough understanding of pharmacokinetics and systems of the human body.
Not only must a person have a rock-solid understanding of medical biology, but an advanced degree in chemistry is a must as well. It may be one of the most intellectually demanding professions in the world. Every component of analytical intelligence is required in this job.
Although not quite as intellectually demanding as being a chemist or financial guru, writing an essay also incorporates many of the elements of analytical intelligence. A well-structured essay has to include potent arguments and often involves comparing and contrasting two subjects or points of view.
Before the first word in the essay is even written, the author must conduct a thorough research of the subject matter. This involves analyzing complex information, evaluating the potency of others’ statements, and assessing how it fits with other points of view or data.
On a higher level of purpose, many political think tanks will write opinion pieces on some of the world’s most serious issues. Those articles often inform and help shape the opinions of high-ranking government officials that formulate policies that will impact millions of people.
4. Food Critic
At first glance, a food critic might seem like a relatively simple occupation. After all, the only requirement is the ability to eat. In reality however, the job involves several sophisticated analytical capabilities that are developed over many years.
The evaluation of a meal in a 5-star restaurant is very nuanced. A sensitive palate enables the detection of very subtle taste variations. Those that are really skilled can even identify individual ingredients and determine if they were used in the right quantity and balance.
The ability to focus on inner sensations is similar to mentally processing complicated data presented in a scientific paper.
In addition, most critics must also provide an evaluation of a restaurant’s ambiance. This requires a more holistic assessment that has also been developed over a period of years, often involving extensive world travel.
If you want to become a food critic, take a look here:
5. Strategic Planner
Understanding the “big picture” is an exercise that requires a thorough understanding of a multitude of factors, plus the ability to predict the future. People that have this ability are hard to find.
This is one reason that possessing this form of analytical intelligence is very lucrative. The CEOs of the world’s largest corporations are paid tens of millions of dollars a year for this skill.
Unfortunately, strategic planning is a skill that one cannot learn at a university. It requires decades of experience and the ability to process data from a wide range of sources. All of that data must then be incubated and combined with the ability to identify trends that are far off into the future.
Strategic planning is a rare form of analytical intelligence that few individuals possess.
Editing a novel utilizes nearly every aspect of analytical intelligence. Numerous considerations must be taken into account simultaneously. For instance, in addition to being able to assess the clarity of another person’s writing, it must also be evaluated in terms of entertainment value.
The storyline has to be assessed in terms of its plausibility and logical progression. Do the events in the novel make sense and are they arranged appropriately?
The characters must be evaluated as well. Does the writing develop the characters sufficiently? Has the author presented their personalities in a way that will be understood and believable?
Editing a novel requires advanced analytical abilities involving storyline and character assessment, a critique of writing quality, and judgment of entertainment value.
There are many examples that contain all three of Sternberg’s triarchic components. Directing a movie is one of them. Just focusing on analytical intelligence, we can see several tasks that require this component. First, the director must constantly assess if the scene being shot is going to convey the true meaning of the story.
There must be a simultaneous comparing and contrasting of the script’s dialogue with its believability when spoken by the actors. This is the kind of judgement that a good director can deliver repeatedly, every day.
Then, after spending months shooting, post-production involves evaluating the footage and putting it together in a coherent sequence. That sequence must match the storyline, which again requires another compare and contrast process.
Directing a movie is a rare talent, but when it is done properly can result in compelling art that can take an audience through an amazing emotional experience.
The human body is an incredibly complex piece of machinery. The various systems are interconnected and have multidirectional effects on numerous organs and bodily functions. Plus, it is all coordinated by another incredibly complex structure, the brain.
When that body is in a disease state, it can be very difficult to diagnosis. A physician has to have a thorough understanding of all systems and be an expert in the use of advanced diagnostic techniques.
Even after the use of sophisticated imaging, such as an MRI or CAT scan, a concise diagnosis may still be difficult. In fact, it may require several kinds of tests, each one of which will lead to a narrowing of possibilities.
The constant analysis and evaluation of possible causes of an ailment can take weeks, sometimes even longer. Medical diagnosis is an example of analytical intelligence in its highest form.
9. Mechanical Engineer
Designing a machine to accomplish a task can be a quite difficult endeavor. Imagine being tasked with designing an assembly line to manufacture a plane, or produce and package a food item.
The skills involve sequencing a long-chain of steps, assessing the feasibility of each step, and evaluating the efficiency of the entire process. At multiple points in the process, an evaluation of quality may need to be conducted as well.
As each of these stages of the project are designed, a simultaneous evaluation will be necessary to keep the entire process cost-effective. There will likely also be a multitude of other factors that have to be considered as well, such as government regulations regarding safety and environmental concerns.
Engineering a complex process that requires nearly every aspect of Sternberg’s analytical intelligence.
10. Supply Chain Logistics
Before the era of globalization, managing a supply chain was a fairly straightforward endeavor. Most items produced in a manufacturing facility were sourced from within one nation’s borders. Occasionally, there might be some issues transporting supplies from point A to point B, but those difficulties were relatively stable and easily overcome.
However, all that changed with globalization. Cross-Atlantic transportation became more economical. Labor in third-world countries became too tempting to ignore. Add to that the fact that products became ten-times more complicated, and you have a recipe for supply-chain spaghetti.
What was once just a matter of moving things from point A to point B, turned into an international maze involving point A to point Z++. To make matters worse, each country has its own set of regulations and idiosyncratic challenges.
In the era of high-tech gadgetry, managing a supply chain requires a wizard of analytical intelligence.
11. A Futurist
A futurist is a person that predicts the future. In order to do so, they have to have a keen understanding of history and current trends. By analyzing numerous societal, business, and governmental factors, they synthesize the data to formulate an insightful prediction. At least, it is supposed to be insightful.
Very large corporations will often consult with a futurist to help them identify potential business opportunities. The hope is that those predictions will give them a competitive advantage.
Sometimes a head of state will consult the opinions of a futurist to guide an economic plan or avoid possible security threats.
To predict the future, it is necessary to perform a wide range of assessments and analyses that can then be utilized for judgements regarding the future. Having a high level of analytical intelligence is a definite prerequisite.
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12. Homicide Detective
Solving a murder mystery is an example of analytical intelligence that contains nearly all of the essential elements proposed by Sternberg. For example, a detective has to first evaluate the crime scene and make a distinction between what is meaningful and not meaningful information.
Then, during the investigation the detective must continuously analyze clues, conduct research, and assess the quality of leads. The process can go on for days, weeks and even months. It is like a puzzle, only a lot of the missing pieces may remain unknown forever.
In the end, the detective has to construct a storyline that explains what happened. A well-organized and logical sequence of events has to be formulated that will lead to an arrest and also hold up in a court of law. It is a job that requires a great deal of experience and analytical intelligence.
Analytical intelligence is one of three constructs identified by Robert Sternberg and his theory of triarchic intelligence. Although throughout most of human history analytical intelligence was of little importance, as life has evolved it has become an essential attribute.
The ability to assess and evaluate complicated data are absolutely necessary skills for everything from conducting financial analyses to diagnosing the medical condition of patients. To critique and judge the quality of something is vital to professions as diverse as film-making to food critic.
Just a few years ago many scholars would have identified analytical intelligence as one of the most vital skills people will need in the future for well-paying and stable employment. Ironically, if the predictions of futurists today are correct, there won’t be any jobs and AI will do our thinking for us.
Hines, A. (2016). Can I Get a Job as a Futurist? World Future Review, 8, 46-53. https://doi.org/10.1177/1946756715627368
Hough, R. M. (2019). The investigation of homicide. Homicide Studies, 23(2), 87-92. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088767919827348
Howard, B. C., McGee, S., Shin, N., & Shia, R. (2001). The triarchic theory of intelligence and computer-based inquiry learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(4), 49-69. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02504947
Rajah, N., Musa, H., Nipis, V., Krishnan, P., Suppiah, S., Fyrdaus, A., & Ahmad, N. (2018). Global Supply Chain Management: Challenges and Solution. International Journal of Engineering and Technology, 4, 447-454. https://doi.org/10.14419/ijet.v7i4.34.26909
Sternberg, R. J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.