Emotional Intelligence


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EQ is the acronym generally used to signify emotional intelligence – a variation on IQ or Intelligence Quotient.  Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence, focussed attention on this concept; however, long-term studies at the University of California have emphasised the importance and relevance of emotional intelligence in almost everything that individuals undertake.

Daniel Goleman described emotional intelligence as: "… the ability to identify, assess and control one's own emotions, the emotion of others, and that of groups." He described four important elements of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills.  The first two concepts are about understanding and managing oneself; the next one is about understanding another's perspective and the final element incorporates all of these in the execution of social skills.

High ability individuals usually have the capacity to understand themselves but have not always been taught and encouraged to do so.  Teachers often refer to metacognition as an important cognitive skill. Essentially, this means thinking about one's thinking or self-awareness and can be shown visually as a 'thought bubble' inside another, larger 'thought bubble'. Self-regulation is sometimes more challenging because if students experience heightened emotions, there is a greater degree of self-soothing required to calm or manage oneself. Strong emotional arousal requires greater skills to self-soothe; an emotional eruption needs a stronger capacity to manage an emotional outburst.  Like a muscle, more practice is required to build and strengthen this emotional capacity – which is not easy, especially when the brain is still developing and is currently 'under construction'. 

Empathy has been described as awareness of another's perspective.  Those students who do not possess Theory of Mind are likely to find the development of empathy difficult. One's perspective is one's reality – even if perceived differently by someone else; however, the capacity to understand and accept another's perspective – despite it being different to one's own perspective, is an important element of emotional intelligence.   

When all these elements are combined, they enable the implementation of social skills – which allow individuals and groups of people to interact and accomplish a task together, smoothly. A strong sense of justice (from one's own perspective), a different concept of what constitutes loyalty, friendship and humour as well as advanced moral development, can impact on one's social skills.

Cognitive capacity, (i.e., IQ - intellectual ability or quotient) as well as academic skills are important if one is to accomplish tasks and achieve academically; however, emotional intelligence (or EQ) has been identified as a valuable element that should be developed to facilitate personal accomplishment.

​© Michele Juratowitch   

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Last reviewed 17 June 2022
Last updated 17 June 2022