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This is a new definition as of December 17, 2007. It is based on the academic work of the Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey. This definition differs from the Mayer Salovey definition in one very important way because it emphasizes that emotional intelligence an innate potential.
In other words, each baby is born with a specific and unique potential for these components of emotional intelligence:
Because the definition offered here is based on an innate potential, it makes a very important distinction between this inborn potential and what actually happens to that potential over a person's life.
For more on this see Potential EI vs. Actual EI Skills (EI vs EQ)
Dec 15, 2007 note - Today I realized that the ability to explain your feelings is also a part of emotional intelligence. As with the other components of EI, one's ability to do this later in life depends both on one's innate potential and one's life experiences. Here is one example, if we ask a person how they feel and they tell us they feel uncomfortable with something, but they cannot tell us why, it could be more because they lack innate emotional intelligence or because they were never taught to understand their feelings, to label their feelings and to analyze the cause and effect relationship between events and their feelings.
December 17, 2007 - I got an email from a reader suggesting I add "describe". I agree with him, so I have added that, plus "identify". Here is his email.
Here are some earlier definitions I offered.
|Applying the The Innate Potential
Model of EI to a Baby
As a practical example of emotional intelligence, and to see how even one babys innate level of emotional intelligence can be different than anothers, lets look at a babys feelings of fear.
Fear, of course, is a natural feeling. Its purpose, as designed by nature, is to help the baby survive. A baby has a natural fear of abandonment because the baby knows its life depends on others. When it is left alone, it feels afraid. A baby is also afraid of being separated from its parents, so if a stranger tries to take the baby away from them, it is natural for the baby to feel afraid. But not all babies respond to fear in exactly the same way. Lets consider a babys fear as we look at each of the components of emotional intelligence. First, here is a reminder of my definition of EI.
While all of the above components can be found in an emotionally intelligent baby, the final component, understanding emotions is probably reserved for later in life, when a child begins to develop its ability to reason.
|Potential EI vs. Actual EI Skills
(EI vs EQ)
As written in my definition section, I believe each child enters the world with a unique potential for these components of emotional intelligence:
The way we are raised dramatically affects what happens to our potential in each of these areas. For example a baby might be born with a very high potential for music -- he or she might be a potential Mozart -- but if that child's potential is never recognized, nurtured, and enouraged, and if the child is never given the chance to develop their musical potential, they will never become a talented musician later in life. The world will then miss out on this person's special gift to humanity.
Also, a child being raised in an emotionally abusive home can be expected to use their emotional potential in unhealthy ways later in life. (See the "Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence")
Because of these possibilities, I encourage you to make a distinction between a person's inborn emotional potential versus their actual emotional skills and use of emotional intelligence later in life. I suggest we use the term "emotional intelligence" only for a person's inborn, innate emotional potential. When we want to talk about their actual emotional skills and emotional management as we see by their behavior, I suggest we use the term "EQ" since it is already often being used talk about a person's practical emotional skills.
See this article about the words ability, skill and potential.
Here is more writing on this idea of mine from a couple years ago....
And here is a bit of history on what seems to be the first published use of the term EQ, written by Keith Beasley in 1987 for Mensa Magazine in England. I like Keith's concept of EQ. It is more practical than the academic concept of emotional intelligence and more humanitarian than the corportate concept promoted by Dan Goleman.
Most writers interchange the terms "EQ" and "emotional intelligence". I believe, however, it is useful to try to make distinction between a person's person's innate potential versus what actually happens to that potential over their lifetime. I believe each baby is born with a certain potential for emotional sensitivity, emotional memory, emotional processing and emotional learning ability. It is these four inborn components which I believe form the core of one's emotional intelligence.
This innate intelligence can be either developed or damaged with life experiences, particularly by the emotional lessons taught by the parents, teachers, caregivers and family during childhood and adolescence. The impact of these lessons results in what I refer to as one's level of "EQ." in other words, as I use the term, "EQ" represents a relative measure of a person's healthy or unhealthy development of their innate emotional intelligence.
When I say "EQ" I am not talking about a numerical test score like IQ. It is simply a convenient name I am using. As far as I know, I am the only writer who is making a distinction between inborn potential and later development or damage. I believe it is possible for a child to begin life with a high level of innate emotional intelligence, but then learn unhealthy emotional habits from living in an abusive home. Such a child will grow up to have what I would call low EQ. I would suspect that abused, neglected and emotionally damaged children will score much lower on the existing emotional intelligence tests compared to others having the same actual original emotional intelligence at birth.
As I see it, I believe, then, that it is possible for a person to start out with high EI, but then be emotionally damaged in early childhood, causing a low EQ later in life. On the other hand, I believe it is possible for a child to start out with relatively low EI, but receive healthy emotional modeling, nurturing etc., which will result in moderately high EQ. Let me stress however that I believe it is much easier to damage a high EI child than to develop the EQ of a low EI child. This follows the principle that it is generally easier to destroy than create.
In comparison to say, mathematical intelligence, it is important to note that relatively few people start out with high innate mathematical abilities and then have this ability damaged through misleading or false math training or modeling. I say relatively few because I mean in comparison to the number of emotionally sensitive children who receive unhealthy and self-destructive emotional imprinting from any number of sources. Parents and television shows don't generally teach that 2+2=968. But they do often teach emotional lessons which are as equivalent in unhealthiness as this equation is in inaccuracy. Or we might say which would be as damaging to an intimate relationship as the false equation would be to the career of an accountant.
At present, all other models of emotional intelligence, including even the most "pure" of the group, the Mayer/Salovey/Caruso model, combine the measurement of the innate emotional variables (sensitivity, memory, processing and learning) with the environmental affects on those same variables. Certain writers have defined intelligence in general as "potential." I agree with this and this is why I want to distinguish between EI and EQ.
See this article about the words ability, skill and potential.
Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey have been the leading researchers in emotional intelligence since 1990. In that year they suggested that emotional intelligence is a true form of intelligence which had not been scientifically measured until they began their research work.
Here is how they defined emotional intelligence in 1990
In the abstract of the 1990 article they also wrote:
They and their colleagues have used various definitions of EI in their academic journal articles since 1990, but their 1997 definition is they one they use the most now. First, here are a few other definitions they have used, then a full presentation fo the 1997 definition is shown. Pease be sure to also read this article about the words ability, skill and potential. The article discusses a fundamental problem with this 1997 definition, ie the problem with their imprecise use of the word "ability".
This was the first time Mayer and Salovey detailed their "four branch model" of emotional intelligence. The defenition is extremely thorough and deserves close attention. Unfortunately, this attention has not often been given it though, at least not in publications on the net.
They introduce the model by saying that the four branches in their chart are:
They add that abilities that emerge relatively early in development are to the left of a given branch; later developing abilities are to the right." And they also say that, "people high in emotional intelligence are expected to progress more quickly through the abilities designated and to master more of them." (From What is Emotional Intelligence, by John Mayer and Peter Salovey)
Here is a copy of their 1997 chart:
I have a few concerns about their definition and some suggestions I would like them to consider.
1. Is intelligence potential, or is it skill and competency?
Here is some of my early writing related to this question:
In 2007 I added this articles to the site.
Ability, Skill and Potential - This article discusses a key problem with the Mayer Salovey definition of EI and with the Mayer Salovey Caruso test (MSCEIT). The problem is their use of the word "ability".
2. Innate EI and emotional damage during life
The Mayer Salovey definition, along with the way they discuss EI in their writing, ignores the fact that a child can start out with high innate emotional intelligence and then be emotionally damaged. (I discuss this further in my section on EI vs EQ.) I would like to see them address this more in their work.
3. Emotional Vocabulary
I would like to see Mayer and Salovey address the fact that an emotionally intelligent person is capable of mastering an extensive vocabulary of what I call feeling words. By mastering I mean having the ability to not only perceive an extensive range of feelings in oneself and others, but also to quickly assign the most specific label to the feeling, for example in conversation with others or in self-reflection. In some of their writing MSC do include the ability to express emotion as part of their first branch of EI, but they seem to limit their test to only a few emotions compared with the much broader available scope of feeling words which are available in the English language.
In common language we often think a person is "intelligent" when they have a large vocabulary and can use it precisely. I believe this same concept applies to emotional intelligence. But again, if a person is never specifically taught to use feeling words, it does not necessarily mean they did not have high innate emotional intelligence, nor that they cannot later expand their emotional vocabulary.
4. Emotional Knowledge
in the section on emotional understanding much of this is probably better called emotional knowledge than an aspect of emotional intelligence itself. Knowledge can be taught but intelligence represents potential before any learning has taken place. Of course, if one is more intelligent, emotionally or otherwise, this learning takes place faster and can go further.
5. Testing for EI
This concern is with measuring emotional facilitation of thought and emotional management. I don't see how you can really do this with a paper and pencil test. The MSC team say they are measuring some of these things with their tests, but it is hard to say how much their test scores reflect actual ability in real life situations, or when under extreme stress. And these are the situations when highly developed emotional intelligence may be the most important.
Finally their definition is a bit too abstract for me when it comes to things like identifying emotion in art and music. I found this section of their CD ROM test a little hard to take seriously when it asks you to look at a graphic design and try to guess what emotions it is conveying. Therefore I would like to see them test for something like the ability to identify emotion in tone of voice or body language instead.
1. Emotional identification, perception and expression
2. Emotional facilitation of thought
3. Emotional understanding
4. Emotional management
Here are two of my earlier definitios of EI
Here are other examples of definitions of EI on the Net
Need to find...
Emotional intelligence is your ability to acquire and apply knowledge from your emotions and the emotions of others in order to be more successful and lead a more fulfilling life.
This is a quote from this page on their site. ** need link
1. For example, Howard Gardner in "A case against spiritual intelligence."
June 2005 Definition
Emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, learn from, manage, and understand emotions.
Here is something which I added to the Wikipedia page on emotional intelligence but has been deleted. If you agree that it is a useful addition to the Wikipedia page, pleae add it again.
feb 16, 2012
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.
So if a person has access to a gun and can use it to scare others - ie controlling their emotions -- they are emotionally intelligent?