Emotional intelligence

From Academic Kids

The expression emotional intelligence or EI indicates a kind of intelligence or skill that involves the ability to perceive, assess and positively influence one's own and other people's emotions.


Mayer and Salovey's Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence

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John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey introduced the term to psychology in a series of papers. They suggested that the capacity to perceive and understand emotions defined a new intelligence. The Mayer-Salovey model defines emotional intelligence as the capacity to understand emotional information and to reason with emotions. More specifically, they divide emotional intelligence abilties into four areas -- in their four branch model:

  1. the capacity to accurately perceive emotions
  2. the capacity to use emotions to facilitate thinking
  3. the capacity to understand emotional meanings
  4. the capacity to manage emotions

These four abilities are assessed by ability-based tests (the researchers have introduced several versions, the latest of which is the MSCEIT V2.0).

Mayer and Salovey published their initial theories and measure of emotional intelligence from 1990 forward.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman kidnapped the concept of emotional intelligence and interpreted it his own way. He popularized his view of emotional intelligence in 1995 in his best-selling book of the same title: Emotional Intelligence.

Goleman's ideas have been criticized by Mayer and Salovey and other critics, because he adapted the term and counted out many of the aspects proposed by their original work.

Nancy Gibbs's Time Magazine article about EI

Goleman's book was mentioned in the 1995-10-02 Time Magazine article The EQ Factor (http://www.time.com/time/classroom/psych/unit5_article1.html) by correspondent Nancy Gibbs [1] (http://www.time.com/time/mediakit/about/biographies/senioreditorialstaff/gibbs.html), which added to the popularity of the book, but misguided the readers on Mayer and Salovey's view like this: "Their [Mayer and Salovey's] notion is about to bound into the national conversation, handily shortened to EQ, thanks to a new book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam; $23.95) by Daniel Goleman." Nancy Gibbs made it look like Goleman's book accurately reflected Mayer and Salovey's concept of emotional intelligence without even mentioning the main differences.

The article was criticized by John Mayer on his Web site (see the article Is EI the Best Predictor of Success in Life? (http://www.unh.edu/emotional_intelligence/ei%20Controversies/eicontroversy1%20best%20predictor.htm)), which is part of the University of New Hampshire Web site. Among other things, he complained about the subtitle on the issue's cover (It's not your IQ. Its not even a number. But emotional intelligence may be the best predictor of success in life, redefining what it means to be smart.), because the subtitle makes the reader think that emotional intelligence is not measurable and that emotional intelligence correlates with "success in life". Mayer and Salovey's view, to the contrary, states that EI is measurable, even with a psychometric test such as the MSCEIT.

Gibbs also adds her view of emotional intellgence by connecting it to the marshmallow test invented by Walter Mischel, a Columbia University developmental psychologist who also reviewed the draft of David Rosenhan's famous Science article On being sane in insane places about psychiatric institutionalization.

Goleman's emotional intelligence

Goleman's popularized definition of emotional intelligence at first displaced the more careful scientific definition of Mayer and Salovey in the public imagination, although interest has more recently turned back in part to their work, which provides the most compelling case for the concept.

Goleman's treatment was similar to Mayer and Salovey's in drawing together research in neurophysiology, psychology and cognitive science. For this, he drew on their original 1990 article but augmented it with many of his own observations based on other parts of the scientific literature. These included that:

  • A part of the human brain called the amygdala or reptilian brain (because it has similar functions to those of reptiles) does most of the processing of human emotional responses. These responses mostly occur automatically, as in the case of the familiar flight-or-attack response triggered by threatening situations. Humans have evolved in such a way that a "neural-hijacking" takes place that provides a quick answer to life's critical situations.
  • In humans, the reptilian brain has links with the neocortex, which can accordingly exert some control over the largely automatic responses of the reptilian brain.
  • The amount of control has a genetic component; yet one can learn to control emotions to a certain degree. Most people do learn this at some point. Further, it is possible to hone the skill, achieving greater abilities to manage emotions.
  • In Goleman's opinion, there does not exist a strong correlation between the Intelligence quotient (IQ) and success in life, although popular opinion largely correlates success with this measurement. According to Goleman, success correlates mainly with emotional intelligence. It should however be noted that adult income, completion of high school, attainment of higher education, avoidance of dependence on welfare, avoidance of criminal conviction, and several other factors normally considered aspects of a "successful" life correlate very strongly with IQ, and there is little or no evidence to suggest similar correlations with EI. Goleman does not define "success" in any way that may be objectively tested, so his claim that EI correlates with success may still be true, although unprovable.

Goleman's approach, although superficially similar to Mayer & Salovey's in some respects, alters the meaning of the term such that it is much more general than before, and adds in claims that the original theory never made.

Goleman's five emotional competencies

Goleman divides up emotional intelligence into the following five emotional competencies:

  • To identify and name one's emotional states and to understand the link between emotions, thought and action
  • To manage one's emotional states — to control emotions or to shift undesirable emotional states to more adequate ones
  • To enter into emotional states associated with a drive to achieve and be successful
  • To read, be sensitive to and influence other people's emotions
  • To enter and sustain satisfactory interpersonal relationships

In Goleman's view, these emotional competencies build on each other in a hierarchy. One must identify one's emotions in order to manage them. One aspect of managing emotions involves entering into drive-to-achieve emotional states. These three abilities, when applied to other people, lead to the fourth one: to read and influence positively other people's emotions. All four competencies lead to increased ability to enter and sustain good relationships.

Goleman observes that emotions always exist — we always feel something. Organizations of all kinds often prize "being rational", whereas they do not esteem "being emotional". But even in the most "rational" of decisions, emotions persist: how else do we decide which criteria to use for evaluating the options in making a decision? — pace experience and statistical probabilities. Emotions also play a role in making a final decision between equally good choices — pace random chance. Goleman also laments gender role idiosyncrasies: Western society usually sees it as acceptable for women to show their emotions, but not for men.

After the publication of his book, Goleman founded the Emotional Intelligence Consortium in order to continue his research. He also published several other books. Further, he has enhanced his emotional competence framework; as of 2002, his competencies divide into 25 abilities, and for each one he lists observable behaviors. In his web site, he shares his new framework, bibliographic references on emotional intelligence, courses and strategies devoted to enhancing EI, emotional intelligence tests and so on. Several schools have actually implemented programs to develop emotional abilities in children with very good results.

This preoccupation with the importance of emotions and emotional handling did not originate with Goleman, although he certainly has contributed very much to raise attention to this kind of alleged intelligence. Psychotherapy of course, deals mainly with the emotions of patients; Goleman however, has brought attention to the fact that emotions play a crucial role in everyday lives, and that so-called "normal" people can enhance their emotional competency.

Chilean biologist Humberto Maturana sees emotions as "predispositions of the body to certain kinds of actions and not others". He notes for instance that the actions available to an angry person differ from those available to a non-angry person. The trick then becomes how to enter into emotional states that enhance and enrich the range of effective action. He also sees strong two-way connections between emotions and language; in particular, the kind of talk we allegedly constantly use to address ourselves.

Many other books on emotional intelligence have appeared in the train of Goleman's work.


  • Goleman, D. Emotional Intelligence: why it matters more than IQ, Bantam Books 1995.
  • Maturana, H. and Francisco J. Varela. The tree of knowledge: the biological roots of human understanding, Translated by Robert Paloucci. Shambala Publications 1998.
  • Mayer, J.D. & Salovey, P. (1993). The intelligence of emotional intelligence. Intelligence, 17, 433-442.
  • Reuven Bar-On and James D. A. Parker (Editors). The Handbook of Emotional Intelligence : Theory, Development, Assessment, and Application at Home, School and in the Workplace, Jossey-Bass 2000.
  • Salovey, P. & Mayer, J.D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9(1990), 185-211.
  • Merlevede, P. & Bridoux, D. (2001) 7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence. Crown House Publishing Ltd (ISBN 1899836500).

See also

External links

nl:Emotionele intelligentie pl:Inteligencja emocjonalna pt:Inteligência emocional


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