Emotional intelligence focuses on knowing and managing your own emotions, as well as recognizing and understanding others’ emotions and managing relationships. It is an additional aspect of general intelligence and is seen to be equally as important as traditional measures of intelligence (IQ) for effective performance in many areas of everyday life.

In his book Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman defines emotional intelligence as a cluster of traits:

  • Self-Awareness – recognizing your full range of emotions and knowing your strengths and limitations
  • Self-regulation – responding skillfully to strong emotions, practicing honesty and integrity, and staying open to new ideas
  • Motivation – persisting to achieve goals and meet standards of excellence
  • Empathy – sensing other people’s emotions and taking an active interest in their concerns
  • Skills in relationships – listening fully, speaking persuasively, resolving conflict, and leading people through times of change


If you are emotionally intelligent, you are probably described as someone with good “people skills.” You are aware of your feelings. You act in thoughtful ways, show concern for others, resolve conflict, and make responsible decisions.

Your emotional intelligence skills will service you in school and in the workplace, especially when you collaborate on project teams.

Emotional intelligence can be developed, and is therefore an effective way of highlighting areas of focus for individuals to become more successful. There are many measures of emotional intelligence but one of the most credible is the Bar-On Emotional Intelligence Scale.

“Emotional intelligence is an organizing framework for categorizing abilities relating to understanding, managing and using feelings” (P SALOVEY & J MAYER 1994)

“Emotional Intelligence: long neglected core component of mental ability or faddish and confused idea massively commercialized” (A. FURNHAM 2001)

It has been suggested that there are now well over 10,000 scholarly books, chapters and papers on emotional intelligence (EI). This is remarkable given that it has only been 21 years since the topic first appeared under that name in the psychological literature. If you search Amazon you will find around 20 books with Emotional Intelligence in the title and three to five times that number dealing with the concept in one form or another.

In 1920 the concept of “Social Intelligence” was first introduced; in 1990 the first published scientific paper on the topic using this term; in 1995 Goleman wrote the bestseller “Emotional Intelligence”; in 1997 the first popular self-report questionnaire was developed; in 2003 the first ability measure devised. There is now a comprehensive Wikipedia entry on the topic and various very serious handbooks and reviews.

A few authors are very well known. One very well-known model is that of Bar-On (1988). According to the BarOn model, emotional intelligence consists of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators that determine how well we understand and express ourselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands, challenges and pressures. The emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators included in this broad definition of the construct are based on the 5 meta-factors: intrapersonal EQ, interpersonal EQ, Stress management EQ, Adaptability EQ and General Mood EQ. Other models, notably that of Petrides and Furnham (2000 ab, 2003) is given below.

Since first coined by Thorndike (1920) and echoed later by Guilford (1967) psychologists have been interested in the “social intelligences.” These are nearly always put in “inverted commas” because, strictly speaking, they are not intelligences but conceived of as social skills, even dispositions/traits that have both multiple causes and multiple consequences.

The question is what is social intelligence? Eysenck (1985) conceived of a useful model that differentiated three types of intelligence – biological, psychometric and social – and what factors influenced it. As we shall see there remains debate and discussion as to whether EI is a real intelligence or rather a social intelligence.

Mackintosh (1998) argues that social intelligence was social competence and success in social interaction that is adaptive and can be seen in other animal species. It allows individuals to understand others’ hopes, fears, beliefs and wishes. He noted that it is not difficult to define social intelligence (mainly in terms of social skills) nor devise tests to measure it. He doubted two things: first, if these many social and interpersonal skills exist on a single dimension and, second, whether they are uncorrelated with, and therefore related to, standard IQ measures of cognitive ability.

Eysenck’s representation of three different conceptions of intelligence. In this model many things, like cognitive ability, predict
social intelligence.


Various researchers have reviewed the concept of social intelligence, including its discriminant validity, relationship to personality and classic cognitive ability, its role in “life tasks” and how it develops over time. They believe it is multifactorial, relating to such issues as social sensitivity, social insight and social communication. In other words, it is much more of a social or personality variable than a cognitive variable, which is more about information processing and accumulation (Petrides & Furnham, 2001, 2003, 2006). Others like Landy (2006) are much more circumspect about the concept. This is nicely described in the title of his chapter heading: “The long, frustrating and fruitless search for social intelligence.”


Over the past decade or so there has been an explosion in the number of “multiple intelligences” discovered. Hardly a year goes by before another is discovered. The following table shows 14 different intelligences.


Multiple Intelligence Author Year
Analytical Sternberg 1997
Bodily-kinesthetic Gardner  1999
Creative Sternberg 1997
Emotional Salovey and Mayer 1990
Interpersonal Gardner 1999
Intrapersonal Gardner 1999
Mathematical Gardner 1999
Musical Gardner 1999
Naturalistic Gardner 1999
Practical Sternberg 1997
Sexual Conrad and Milburn 2001
Spatial Gardner 1999
Spiritual Emmons 2000
verbal Gardner 1999

The two figures most powerfully involved with the multiple intelligence world are Sternberg (1997) and Gardner (1983, 1999). Gardner (1983) defined intelligence as “the ability to solve problems or to create products that are valued within one or more cultural setting” (p.11) and specified seven intelligences. He argued that linguistic/verbal and logical/mathematical intelligences are those typically valued in educational settings. Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to the spoken and written language and the ability to learn languages. Logical-mathematical intelligence involves the capacity to analyze problems logically, solve math problems, and investigate issues scientifically. These two types of intelligence dominate intelligence tests.

Three other multiple intelligences are arts based: musical intelligence, which refers to skill in the performance, composition and appreciation of musical patterns; bodily kinesthetic intelligence which is based on the use of the whole or parts of the body to solve problems or to fashion products; and spatial intelligence which is the ability to recognize and manipulate patterns in space. There are also two personal intelligences: interpersonal intelligence which is the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people and to work effectively with them; and intrapersonal intelligence, which is the capacity to understand oneself and to use this information effectively in regulating one’s life. It is these latter two intelligences that combine to make up emotional intelligences.

However, in his later book Gardner (1999) defines intelligence as a “bio psychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture” (p.33-34). In it, he introduces three possible new intelligences, although he notes: “The strength of the evidence for these varies, and whether or not to declare a certain human capacity another type of intelligence is certainly a judgement call” (p.47). However, he only added one new intelligence, namely naturalistic intelligence, which is “expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species – the flora and fauna – of his or her environment” (p.43). It is the capacity to taxonomize: to recognize members of a group, to distinguish among members of a species and to chart out the relations, formally or informally, among several species. The other two were spiritual and existential intelligences. Spiritual intelligence is the ability to master a set of diffuse and abstract concepts about being, but also mastering the craft of altering one’s consciousness in attaining a certain state of being. This has recently become an issue of considerable debate (Emmons, 2000). Existential intelligence is yet more difficult to define: “the capacity to locate oneself with respect to the furthest reaches of the cosmos – the infinite and infinitesimal –and the related capacity to locate oneself with respect to such existential features of the human condition as the significance of life, the meaning of death, the ultimate fate of the physical and the psychological worlds and such profound experiences as love of another person or total immersion in a work of art” (p.61).


Despite its popularity, and the fact that most people claim to have heard of it, very few can accurately define emotional intelligence. Skeptics claim that “charm and influence” became “social and interpersonal skills” which has become “emotional intelligence.” The new term and concept chimed with the zeitgeist and became very popular. It spawned a huge industry particularly with those interested in success at work. Many books make dramatic claims. One such claim suggests that cognitive ability or traditional academic intelligence contributes to only about 20% of general life success (academic, personal and work) while the remaining 80% is directly attributable to EI.

Below is a simple 2×2 way of conceiving on EI: self vs other; emotional awareness vs management.

Self Awareness

·         Emotional Self-Awareness

·         Self Confidence

·         Accurate Self-Assessment

Social Awareness

·         Empathy

·         Organizational Awareness

·         Service Orientation

Self Management

·         Emotional self control

·         Adaptability

·         Achievement orientation

·         Optimism

·         Innovative

·         Transparency

Relationship Management

·         Influence

·         Conflict management

·         Inspirational leadership

·         Change catalyst

·         Developing others

·         Teamwork and collaboration

Goleman’s (1995) book told a simple and interesting story about emotional intelligence that helped explain its appeal. Goleman prefaces the story by pointing out that technical training in any career is easier than teaching an employee IQ skills. That is, as an adult it is comparatively more straightforward to teach a person the technical aspects of the job than the soft skills. The idea is that there is a critical period to acquire the basis of EI, which is probably during early to late adolescence. Goleman tells the story of a young person who may experience social anxiety, discomfort and rejection while attempting to interact with and influence others . Hence, the young person may over time find solace in computers and other activities with a high skills/low contact basis. Thus, in early adulthood, the person appears to be technically competent in certain areas (IT or engineering, for example) but still rather undeveloped in people skills and, more specifically, emotional awareness and regulation. They may even be phobic about emotional issues and resistant to social skills training. It is also assumed that people are less able to pick up EI skills and also less willing to try. To acquire technical skills often requires considerable dedication so opportunities to acquire social skills (EQ) are, therefore, reduced. Then the low EQ person chooses technology rather than people for fun, comfort, and a source of ideas because they do not understand emotions.


Some adults are rigid, have poor self-control and poor social skills, and struggle to build bonds. Understanding and using emotions/feelings are at the heart of business and, indeed, being human. Often business people prefer to talk about emotional competencies (rather than traits or abilities) which are essentially learned capabilities. Emotional competencies include: emotional self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, socialemotional awareness, regulating emotions in others: understanding emotions, etc. If one is to include older, related concepts, like social skills or interpersonal competencies, it is possible to find literature dating back thirty years showing these skills predict occupational effectiveness and success. Further, there is convincing empirical evidence suggesting these skills can be improved and learned.

Others divide up EI into factors like self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills. Another popular conception has 15 components (Petrides & Furnham, 2003)

These fifteen scales can be combined into four related but independent factors, labeled well-being, self-control skills, emotional skills, and social skills.

Intrapersonal (Self-Awareness and Self- Expression)

  • Self Regard: To accurately perceive, understand, and accept oneself
  • Emotional Self-Awareness: To be aware of and understand ones emotions
  • Assertiveness: To affectively in constructively express one’s emotions and one’s self
  • Independence: To be self-reliant and free of emotional dependency on others
  • Self Actualization: To strive to achieve personal goals and actualized ones potential



  • Empathy: To be aware of and understand how others feel
  • Social Responsibility: To identify with one’s social group and cooperate with others
  • Interpersonal Relationship: To establish mutually satisfying relationships and relate well to others


  • Stress Tolerance: To effectively and constructively manage emotions
  • Impulse Control: To effectively and constructively control emotions


  • Reality-Testing: To objectively validate one’s feelings and thinking with external reality
  • Flexibility: To adapt and adjust one’s feelings and thinking to new situations
  • Problem-Solving: To effectively solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature


  • Optimism: To be positive and look at the brighter side of life
  • Happiness: To feel content with oneself, others and life in general

Personal Competence

Self-Awareness: Knowing One’s Internal States, Preferences, Resources And Intuitions

  • Emotional Awareness: recognizing emotions and their effects
  • Accurate self-assessment: knowing own strengths and limits
  • Self-confidence: strong sense of self-worth and capabilities

Self-Regulation: Managing One’s Internal States, Impulses And Resources

  • Self-Control: keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check
  • Trustworthiness: maintaining standards of honesty and integrity
  • Conscientiousness: taking responsibility for personal performance
  • Adaptability: flexibility in handling change
  • Innovation: being comfortable with novel ideas, approaches and new information

Motivation: Emotional Tendencies That Guide Or Facilitate Reaching Goals

  • Achievement drive: striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence
  • Commitment: aligning with the goals of the group or organization
  • Initiative: readiness to act on opportunities
  • Optimism: persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles or setbacks

Empathy: Awareness Of Others’ Feelings, Needs And Concerns

  • Understanding others: sensing others’ feelings and perspectives and taking an active interest in their concerns.
  • Developing others: sensing others’ development needs and bolstering their abilities
  • Service orientation: anticipating, recognizing and meeting customer needs
  • Leveraging diversity: cultivating opportunities through different kinds of people
  • Political awareness: reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships

Social Skills: Adeptness At Inducing Desirable Responses In Others

  • Influence: wielding effective tactics for persuasion
  • Communication: listening openly and sending convincing messages
  • Conflict management: negotiating and resolving disagreements
  • Leadership: inspiring and guiding individuals and groups
  • Change catalyst: initiating or managing change
  • Building bonds: nurturing instrumental relationships
  • Collaboration and co-operation: working with others toward shared goals
  • Team capabilities: creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals selected, in order.

Now that you have a better understanding of emotional intelligence and you have identified opportunities for development. We will continue to learn more about ourselves and how we process information. Our emotions contribute to our response to new information. In addition, fixed and growth mindset will affect how we proceed with new information.

Watch the following videos:

Alfred & Shadow – A short story about emotions (education psychology health animation) by Anne Hilde Vassbø Hagen

Description of video: “Alfred is in love. He is also angry, shameful, scared, sad and lonely. His good friend Joy supports him in his constant fight against Shadow. Join the fight! And maybe you will discover something new about your own emotions along the way.”

Emotional Intelligence by Robert Tearle

Description of video: “Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. In this animation we explain the fundamentals of emotional intelligence and their implications.”


Source: College of the Canyons Student Success COUNS150 Version 3 CC BY 4.0


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