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Emotional Intelligence -1990 Article


Peter Salovey, & John D. Mayer-- Imagination, Cognition, and Personality (1990),9, 185-211.

The abstract reads:

This article presents a framework for emotional intelligence, a set of skills hypothesized to contribute to the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effective regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate, plan and achieve in one's life. We start by reviewing the debate about the adaptive vs. maladaptive qualities of emotions. We then explore the literature on intelligence, and especially social intelligence, to examine the place of emotion in traditional intelligence conceptions. A framework for integrating emotion-related skills is then described. Next, we review the components of emotional intelligence. To conclude the review, the role of emotional intelligence in mental health is discussed and avenunes for further investigation are suggested.

The article begins by asking, "Is emotional intelligence a contradiction in terms?" Then, somewhat humorously, the authors quote several psychologists from years ago who said things like, emotions were "accute disturbances of the individual," and that emotions were "disorganized responses" which came from a "lack of adjustment, and pure emotion is similar to "a complete loss of cerebral control," and that emotions contained "no trace of conscious purpose." In 1940 some psychologist wrote in a his textbook that IQ should measure how much one can not show emotions such as fear or grief or "inquisitive over things that arouse the emotions of younger children."

Then the article cites examples of a more "modern" approach to emotions in psychology.

The paragraph begins with: (p 186)

"A second tradition views emotion as an organizing response because it adaptively focusses cognitive activities and subsequent action." In other words, our emotions help us think and act in healthy ways. The authors provide four citations from the period between 1948 and 1982 to support this view of emotions. They also cite a quotation which says that our emotions "arouse, sustain and direct activity."

"The full expression of emotions seems to be a primary human motive, and it may therefore be worthwhile to consider it from a functionalist perspective." [This seems to be another way of saying that they believe, as I do, that all emotions have basic survival value.]

Next section: A definition of emotions

"We view emotions as organized responses, crossing the boundaries of many psychological subsystems, including the physiological, cognitive, motivational, and experiential systems."

[In another article after this one they reference a quote which seems to be the source of their definition of emotion. The quote is from 610, from Smith, C. A., & Lazarus, R. S. (1990). Emotion and adaptation. In L. A. Pervin, Handbook of personality (609-637). New York: The Guilford Press, and is as follows:

Emotion is an organized response system that coordinates physiological, perceptual, experiential, cognitive, and other changes into coherent experiences of moods and feelings.

Later in their 2000 "Zeitgeist" article Mayer et al say this "Emotions are complex organizations of the physiological, emotional, experiential, cognitive, and conscious," so they have kept the same basic definition of emotion (which is obviously a pretty academic definiton.)

They distinguish emotions from mood "in that emotions are shorter and generally more intense. [They do not address what feelings are.]

They say that they view emotions as "adaptive and as something that can potentially lead to a transformation of personal and social interaction into enriching experience."

Subsection: Emotional intelligence and its relationship to other intelligences

"... constructs such as emotional intelligence have played a part within the traditions of the intelligence field.

Subsection: Intelligence defined

They mention Pythagoras' "none-too-helpful" depiction of intelligence as "winds," as well as Descartes statement that intelligence is the ability to judge true from false. They say that the definition which is probably most cited is that of Wechsler who said intelligence is "the aggreggate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment."


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Link to a full copy of the original 1990 article

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