Emotional Intelligence

Nature and genes
Performance Improvement
Social Pressure

The first use of the term EI appeared in a German publication (Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie by H. Leuner) in 1966. In it, Leuner discusses women who reject their social roles due to them being separated at an early age from their mothers. He suggest that they had a low "Emotional Intelligence" and prescribed LSD for their treatment (after all, this was the 60s).

E.I. first appeared in English in a doctoral dissertation by Payne in 1986 (A study of emotion: Developing emotional intelligence, self-integration, relating to fear, pain, and desire). He advocated fostering E.I. in schools by liberating emotional experience through therapy.

In the early 90s, Jack Mayer, Peter Salovey, David Caruso, and a few others began some serious research into E.I. However, it was Daniel Goleman who popularized the term in the late 90s when he came across their research during a stint as a science writer for the New York Times and wrote some books on the subject.

Revelle once wrote that there are three aspects of human nature:

  • How all people are alike
  • How some people are alike
  • How all people are unique
Thus E.I. becomes:
  • A general quality of human beings possessed by every normal person.
  • A quantitative spectrum of individual differences in which they can be ranked ordered.
  • A qualitative, fine-grained account in which there are no comparisons between people.

EI nowadays seems to be mostly concerned with the second option above -- ranking people on some type of emotional scale. This is perhaps because of the term itself. Intelligence is hard to define, but the means that we come to understand it is through "measurements" of various people. Thus, so far, EI has come to mean a measurement of emotions. However, is raising one's E.I. desirable? Goleman's first book, Emotional Intelligence (1995), suggest that we are in social crises and the way out of it is the teaching of EI in schools, and in a later book, the work place. Yet, there is little evidence to suggest that a high EI is desirable in the work place, and if it is, can it be taught?

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to process emotional information as it pertains to the perception, assimilation, expression, regulation, and management of emotion. Emotional intelligence is believed to encompass a variety of social and cognitive functions related to the expression of emotion. Emotionally intelligent individuals are often described as well-adjusted, warm, genuine, persistent, and optimistic.

Daniel Goleman

Goleman describes E.I. as "abilities such as being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one's moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope." He also uses another interesting term to describe E.I., "character." Thus, Goleman's definition seems to be an all-encompassing view that covers traits, values, personality, motivation, and character. In fact, he almost defines it as everything that is not "IQ."

Goleman's version of E.I. is known as a mixed-model in that it captures a diverse array of psychological phenomena. Although Golman's idea of E.I. are most interesting, there is one aspect of his work that is quite disturbing: he claims to have gone back to his roots as an academic psychologist, however he still makes unfounded claims that have no empirical backing, such as E.I. having a higher predictive validity for performance in the work place than traditional measures of intelligence. There is absolutely no evidence that suggest this.

Reuven Bar-On

Reuven Bar-On's definition of E.I. is similar to Golman's as it uses clusters of personality traits: "an array of non-cognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one's ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures." However, this begs the question of how it is possible to have a "skill" that is "non-cognitive"? Bar-On has developed an interesting instrument called the Emotional Quotient Inventory (E.Q.-i) that assesses five broad subtypes of E.I.:
  1. intrapersonal intelligence
  2. interpersonal intelligence
  3. adaptability
  4. stress management
  5. general mood.
While the validation studies of his instrument seem to be quite impressive so far, it is not clear as to whether the E.Q.-i measures any construct that is not already being captured with other Instruments. For example, the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) and the Five Factor model of personality already have closely related scales.

Thus Bar-On's work seems to be almost a relabeling (marketing) effort rather than science. However, there is one aspect of his instrument that is quite interesting. With I.Q., almost every literature/research shows that higher intelligence is related to a faster speed of information uptake/processing. However, with the E.Q.-i, people with high E.I. take longer to process emotional information. Thus, this relationship seems counter intuitive -- the better one is at EI, the longer one takes.

Note that Reuven Bar-On claims to have used a related concept, Emotional Quotient (E.Q.) even earlier, however, this was in an unpublished doctoral dissertation.

E.I., Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso

While Goleman and Bar-On almost seem to be trying to take the "intelligence" (cognitive) out of E.I., Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso stress the "intelligence" portion of E.I. They use a framework in which E.I. represents an intelligent system for in-putting and processing emotional information. It has four branches:
  1. emotional perception / identification
  2. emotional facilitation of thought
  3. emotional understanding
  4. emotional management
Rather than use a self-reporting E.I. instrument, they developed a performance-based instrument that is akin to those found in the intelligence literature called the Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS) and then later developed a revised edition: MSCEIT (Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test), which is still being researched.

What is interesting about the MEIS is that it measures EI as a construct that is distinct from existing personality dimensions. However, while it has good measurement properties, it has to rely on the researcher to decide how the items are to be scored.

Thus, from their framework, we see that E.I. is composed of mental abilities and skills. It is also a hierarchical structure with Emotional Management as the main factor and the other three parts playing the roles of general supporting processes.

Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner, while doing an Australian study, writes that, "Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and express emotions in yourself, your ability to understand the emotions of colleagues".

E.I. as Biological, Symbol, and Knowledge

What is interesting about the four definitions is that they seem to be approaching E.I. from three different perspectives:
  1. Biological - emotions are used to make intelligent decisions
  2. Symbol - the ability to recognize and express emotions in yourself and others
  3. Knowledge - emotional management

Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is associated with thinking about emotions and with self-control. In addition, it is also the key to thinking in words and controlling behavior, urges, emotions, and thought. Hence, it is the very simple act of verbalizing with others, in diaries, or in poems, to name a few activities, that allow us to cope, and thus grow with our emotions. This very simple act of "understanding" allows most emotions to be dealt with in a quite intelligent manner.

In addition, feeling (where we believe our emotional state is at) is largely thought to be a mapping of a particular body state by the mind in which a mental image is formed. Thus feeling is in essence an idea. And that idea resides within the person. This means that feeling is closely correlated with our thinking style.

Among school counselors, however, the construct of emotional intelligence has not been explored in relation to dimensions of their professional functioning, particularly in connection with salient counseling-related skills such as empathy and multicultural counseling competence. Empathy has been defined as counselors' ability to communicate a sense of caring and understanding regarding their clients' experiences. Moreover, multicultural counseling competence refers to counselors' attitudes / beliefs, knowledge, and skills in working with culturally diverse persons. There is a need for information that identifies how school counselors' emotional intelligence and empathy may relate to their self-perceived competence in counseling students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Such competence undoubtedly affects school counselors' ability to provide comprehensive, developmental, and systematic services to all students.

In the professional literature, emotional intelligence is typically viewed as a somewhat enduring trait-like characteristic. Emotional intelligence involves a set of mental abilities in which individuals employ higher-level processes regarding their attention to feelings, clarity of feelings, discriminability of feelings, and mood-regulating strategies. Emotional intelligence has been found to be positively correlated with variables such as empathy, verbal intelligence, extraversion, openness to feelings, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. It is also believed to be related to other types of intelligences such as cognitive ability and social intelligence. Goleman suggested that although cognitive intelligence may provide some individuals with entry into a particular setting, emotional intelligence may serve a vital role in determining how successful they will be after entering the setting. With regard to school counselors, the presence of high levels of emotional intelligence may be crucial in helping them work with students from a range of cultural backgrounds. In particular, school counselors' emotional intelligence could play an important role in their ability to empathize with and address the mental health concerns of culturally diverse students.

Empathy requires the accurate identification of emotional responses in others and it is believed to involve well-defined abilities rather than solely attitudes. Thus, school counselors who encounter difficulties in empathizing with students may experience skill deficits in working with these individuals. In the context of cross-cultural relationships, school counselors' ability to understand the culturally based experiences of students of color may be crucial to the alleviation of these students' presenting issues. Hence, the degree to which school counselors display empathy in cross-cultural counseling relationships may reflect aspects of their self-perceived multicultural counseling competence.

This study sought to better understand the relationships among school counselors' emotional intelligence, empathy, and self-reported multicultural counseling knowledge and awareness. Previous research in the school counseling literature has reported that prior multicultural counseling education was associated with higher self-perceived abilities to work with culturally diverse clients. Thus, this variable was also examined in the context of this investigation. One hypothesis was formulated for the current study, that previous multicultural education, emotional intelligence, and empathy would account for significant variance in school counselors' self-perceived multicultural counseling knowledge and awareness.


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