Characteristics of the Social Interpersonal Learning Style

Students sitting in classroom

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The interpersonal learning style is one of eight types of learning styles defined in Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences. Interpersonal learning style or interpersonal intelligence refers to a person's ability to interact with and understand other people and social situations. 


Interpersonal learners love to interact and prefer learning through interpersonal communication and interaction. Interpersonal learners are true people persons. They enjoy heading up committees, participating in group learning projects, and communicating with other students and adults. They enjoy school activities such as speech, drama, and debate teams.

The strengths of people with a high degree of interpersonal intelligence are in communicating with and understanding other people. They may be good at leading and organizing other people and groups, understanding other people and resolving conflicts.

The person with a strong interpersonal learning style has an inherent need for group activities, clubs, and social gatherings. They may thrive in a mentor/apprentice relationship.

How Interpersonal Learning Styled People Learn Best

People with interpersonal learning styles learn best when they are permitted to use their people senses as part of the learning process. They often prefer direct involvement with others in group projects in school or within the larger community. They are stimulated by dialogue with students and adults and seem to have a strong sense of intuition regarding others' opinions and preferences. Interpersonal learners are good at reading people and are good at getting to the root cause of communication problems.

They can be good at giving and receiving feedback and may seek it out from instructors. They like to be coached and may like to be a peer coach to others. One-on-one tutoring may also be of value, since they may learn better through interaction. Mentoring and apprenticeship programs may also be of value for the interpersonal learner. They may want to join or form a study group outside of the classroom.

They may not be comfortable or perform best when required to work alone or on self-paced projects. Instructors may need to channel the interpersonal learning in a more positive direction if they note the learner is manipulating others, socializing when they should be studying, or arguing with others when there is a difference of opinion.

Interpersonal Learning Style Career Choices

The interpersonal learning style student may be drawn to careers where there will be regular interpersonal interactions with others. They often have strengths in leadership, organizing, and understanding other people. They may be misplaced in careers where much of the work is done solo and without interaction. Careers that may use their talents include teacher, salesperson, marketing coordinator, communications manager, customer service representative, personal services (beautician, nail technician, tattoo artist, etc.), minister, psychologist, counselor, human resources coordinator, social worker, travel and tourism advisor, attorney, politician, television or radio broadcaster or anchor, actor, nurse, event coordinator, personal trainer, sports coach, recreation therapist, or corporate officer.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Braaten E. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Intellectual and Developmental Disorders. Sage Publishing. 2018.

  3. Gardner H. Taking a multiple intelligences (MI) perspective. Behav Brain Sci. 2017;(40):e203. doi:10.1017/S0140525X16001631

  4. Chang Y, Brickman P. When Group Work Doesn't Work: Insights from Students. CBE Life Sci Educ. 2018;17(3):ar42. doi:10.1187/cbe.17-09-0199

  5. De Jong N, Wisse B, Heesink JAM, Van der zee KI. Personality Traits and Career Role Enactment: Career Role Preferences as a Mediator. Front Psychol. 2019;10:1720.  doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01720

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.