Emotional Intelligence: A History and Definition

Emotional Intelligence: A History and Definition

Despite the fact that the term “emotional intelligence” (EI) dates back to a 1964 paper authored by Michael Beldoch, the concept really caught the public’s attention in the last couple of decades as a result of Daniel Goleman’s best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence — Why it can matter more than IQ (1994). The idea that something other than raw intelligence was a better predictor of success was a compelling thought, and though the concept of this new form of “intelligence” started out somewhat amorphously in its previous incarnations, many people have sought to create a model for studying what exactly emotional intelligence is. Another term that emerged out of this process was EQ (or Emotional Quotient, like Intelligence Quotient) as a rubric for measuring the aptitude. EQ was first used by Keith Beasley in an article he wrote for British Mensa magazine.

In a nutshell, emotional intelligence can be defined as one’s ability to observe, detect, and categorize one’s own emotions as well as those of others, while using this information to inform one’s decisions, thinking, and behavior. The depth of this ability is another factor in emotional intelligence, as weaving together thoughts and emotions to better understand interpersonal situations is a key factor in gauging someone’s strength in this area. Definitions of emotional intelligence vary, however, as it is still very much an evolving field – models for gauging emotional intelligence continue to be refined.

While the various models for emotional intelligence each have their merits and their own assessments, we use tend to use the EQ-i 2.0® assessment to measure an individual’s strengths and potential areas for improvement. The EQ-i 2.0® was adapted from Israeli clinical psychologist Reuven Bar-On’s original model concept which was further refined in this present model. This tool measures the following areas plus their sub-categories:

  • Self-perception
    • Self-regard – confidence
    • Self-actualization – continuous development
    • Emotional self-awareness
  • Self-expression
    • Emotional expression – saying how you feel
    • Assertiveness – standing up for yourself effectively
    • Independence – standing on your own two feet
  • Interpersonal skills
    • Interpersonal relationship – developing and maintaining good relationships
    • Empathy – recognizing and appreciating how others feel
    • Social responsibility – contributing to society
  • Decision making
    • Problem-solving – effectively managing emotions when solving problems
    • Reality testing – seeing things as they really are
    • Impulse control – ability to resist or delay impulses
  • Stress management
    • Flexibility – adapting to change effectively
    • Stress tolerance – successfully coping with stressful situations
    • Optimism – having a positive outlook
Click to enlarge. [Source]

Click to view larger image. [Source]

One of the most important things to realize about emotional intelligence is that, unlike standard intelligence, it is malleable. While some of us are born with stronger aptitudes in the various components of EI than others, it is something that can actually be improved with deliberate practice. The way that you score on an emotional intelligence assessment is really just a baseline, a starting point, from which you can move forward. Another interesting aspect of EI is that many individuals will actually find that they are out of balance in a couple of the aforementioned areas, which can provide excellent opportunities for introspection and personal growth. Emotional intelligence is an exciting field because it highlights how important the understanding and interpretation of emotions – an inherently human experience – are to our success in relationships both at work and in our personal lives. In a future post, we’ll explore ways in which we can improve in the five main areas of emotional intelligence.

Doug Ramsay

Doug handles the marketing and web presence for Adventure Associates. If he's not geeking-out with the latest, greatest web marketing tools, then you'll find him swirling and sipping his way through wine country.

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