What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and How Does It Compare to IQ?


Since Alfred Binet first tested children in the early 1900s to determine whether they are learning impaired, academics and scientists have considered a person's intelligence quotient, or IQ, to be the measure of intelligence. In 1990, Peter Salovey and John Mayer coined the phrase EQ, or emotional quotient, to describe the ability to control personal emotions and to appraise the emotions of others. Scientists believe that EQ plays a critical role in determining your success.

Defining Emotional Intelligence

  • Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is defined by Salovey and Mayer as the ability to monitor feelings and emotions, to discriminate between them, and to use the information to guide your thinking and actions. Under their definition, EQ can be divided into the appraisal and expression or regulation and utilization of emotion. According to Salovey and Mayer, flexible planning, creative thinking and redirected attention are all attributable to emotional intelligence.

Determining Intelligence Quotient

  • The term IQ represents a number used to express the relative intelligence of a person. A person's IQ is a score determined by a person's performance on a standardized test. Critics of IQ testing believe that the tests contain a certain amount of cultural bias and that results unfairly divide test takers by gender and class. Proponents of IQ testing feel that a person's intellectual capacity is unchangeable.

Comparing EQ and IQ

  • Proponents of EQ theories regard people with a strong emotional intelligence as likely to be more successful than individuals with lower EQ. Those with a more developed sense of emotional intelligence know how to listen to and value others' opinions and can accept personal criticism. Individuals with higher emotional intelligence are more thoughtful and generally happier people. Having a high IQ does not automatically a guarantee personal success, especially when the person is unable to effectively share his knowledge with those around him.

Improving Emotional Intelligence

  • Businesses and schools recognize the benefits of emotional intelligence and have taken steps to help individuals increase their EQ. Improving the ability to control emotions and reducing personal stress are a must. Being aware of nonverbal communication skills, the facial expressions and gestures used when communicating with others will help people understand how others view them. Learning to use humor to deal with difficult challenges and finding ways to positively resolve conflict will help increase emotional intelligence.


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