Emotional Intelligence

Deconstructing Emotional Intelligence

According to many commercial providers of Emotional Intelligence tests (EQ), the main purpose of EQ evaluations is to serve as an alternative measurement to IQ tests as a better predictor of success in business. Paramount to the concept of EQ is the general quasi-inability to define it[1], claims EQ can be improved[2] and supposed applications for the workplace[3].


The questionable foundations of EQ

Based on the work of Barbara Leuner,[4] Stanley Greenspan, Peter Salovey and John D Mayer[5] but most of all Daniel Goleman, various EQ models have been subjected to serious criticism by various members of the psychology and scientific communities. Most damming criticism of the modem has come from Hans Jürgen Eysenck and Edwin A. Locke. Serious criticism of the predictive model has come from Frank J. Landy. Criticism of the EQ construct has centred around the fact these models are not actual intelligence constructs, that these self-directed tests measure conformity, knowledge of emotions, personality and general intelligence. Criticism has also centred on the claims of predictive powers and some psychologists have denounced the ‘commercial wing’ of the EI / EQ movement[6].


My issues with the results from EQ

The results received, directly correlate to the self-reporting input. Anybody answering these self-directed tests can determine rather quickly what the ‘ideal’ response would be were this test used as a tool in human resources for example. It was quite easy to see how the system was trying to flush out one’s opinion about self through the use of questions that were sometimes repetitive.

My personal results are questionable at the least and completely ignore many facts about my personality and my experience. At no point can the test take into consideration major contributors to my emotional self nor my cultural context[7].

Since I was trained and educated in a European French system, my approach towards emotional expression is not always in tune with that of many Canadian colleagues. This does not mean I do not understand their reality or their propensity to use emotional language, it means that when it comes to systems, employment, decision making, I may have a different sense of hierarchy, I may be more inclined to dissociate reason and emotion and have a different and critical approach to thinking. I therefore cannot relate nor can I use the supposed results of the EQ assessment.

[1] “Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible.” – TalentSmart Inc., Url: www.talentsmart.com/about/emotional-intelligence.php

[2] “Once you train your brain by repeatedly using new emotional intelligence strategies, emotionally intelligent behaviors become habits.” – Ibidem.

[3] “The Consortium was founded in the spring of 1996 with the support of the Fetzer Institute. Its initial mandate was to study all that is known about emotional intelligence in the workplace” – Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, Url: eiconsortium.org

[4] Emotional intelligence and emancipation. A psychodynamic study on women. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie. Leuner, B., 1966.

[5] Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185-211. Salovey, P., & Mayer, J.D., 1990.

[6] Some historical and scientific issues related to research on emotional intelligence. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 411-424. Landy, F.J., 2005.

[7] “A color-coded map of the world’s most and least emotional countries”. The Washington Post, by Max Fisher on November 28, 2012. Url: http://wapo.st/Y4Lwkj


1 response on Emotional Intelligence

  1. Hi !
    Thank you for that interesting post. I was wondering what is the source for the criticism of Hans Jürgen Eysenck, I have found some work from Locke, but nothing for Eysenck.
    Adèle Coquerelle (Master Student)

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