Home | Emotional
Intelligence | Dan Goleman
"EQ test" written for Utne Magazine
The questions, my findings and original
article which went with the test
(Feb 2006) comments
Goleman's Lack of feelings
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In 1999 I wrote:
"Because many people are
still interested in the 1995 Utne Reader magazine
"EQ test," I decided to take the test
apart, so to speak, to see how it works. (I have
always enjoyed taking things apart since I was a kid
and used to unscrew everything, earning me the label
of "Screwy Lewy.") The results, as I
interpret them, not only give an insight into the
beliefs and personal bias of Daniel Goleman, the test
author, but they also reveal the weakness of the test
instrument. (Goleman later admitted the test was
never intended to be taken seriously.)
Now I am taking another look at the
test. Goleman asked Utne to take the test off their site,
which they did. Luckily I found a back up copy of it on
another site. Before I just had a link to the Utne site.
Now I have the questions, the scoring, and my comments
presented in an easier to read format.
I started out by selecting answer
"a" for all 10 questions. My score was 60. Then
I changed one answer at a time and recalculated the
scores to determine the "correct" and
"incorrect" answers. Later I saw that I didn't
need to go to all that trouble-- the correct and
incorrect answers were further down in the site! But
still, it was fun to figure it out for myself, and by not
seeing the answers, I was able to do my own thinking
|The Questions, My Findings and
are the original questions, my findings about how Goleman
scored the answers and my 1999 comments.
|1. Youre on an
airplane that suddenly hits extremely bad
turbulence and begins rocking from side to side.
What do you do?
a. continue to read
your book or magazine, or watch the movie,
paying little attention to the turbulence.
b. become vigilant for an emergency,
carefully monitoring the flight attendants
and reading the emergency instructions card.
c. a little of both a and b.
d. not sure; never noticed.
|Goleman gives you 20
points for answer a,b or c
You get no points for answer d
|This seems odd
- that there can be three equally correct
answers. I was so surprised at these results I
had to repeat them several times to be sure this
is how he scored them!
|2. Youve taken a group
of 4-year-olds to the park, and one of them
starts crying because the others wont play
with her. What do you do?
a. stay out of it; let
the kids deal with it on their own.
b. talk to him and help him figure out ways
to get the other kids to play with him.
c. tell him in a kind voice not to cry.
d. try to distract the crying boy by showing
him some other things he could play with.
|You get 20 points for b
No points for a, c or d
|Now it is just
the opposite. There are three equally incorrect
answers! I'd guess that a more intelligent, more
valid test of EI would reflect that some answers
are relatively better and worse, rather than
simply being "correct" or
|3. Assume you had hoped to
get an A in one of your courses, but you have
just found out you got a C on the midterm.
What do you do?
a. sketch out a
specific plan for ways to improve your grade
and resolve to follow through on your plans.
b. resolve to do better in the future.
c. tell yourself it really doesnt
matter much how you do in that particular
course, and concentrate instead on other
classes where your grades are higher.
d. go to the professor and try to talk her
into giving you a better grade.
|20 points for a
0 for b,c,d
|No points for
resolving to do better? No points for talking to
the professors? No points for not worrying about
it and focussing on positives? I'd say there is
some value in all of these! In fact, it helped me
several times to talk to the professors!
|4. Imagine you are an
insurance salesman calling prospective clients.
Fifteen people in a row have hung up on you, and
you are getting discouraged. What do you do?
a. call it a day and
hope you have better luck tomorrow.
b. assess qualities in yourself that may be
undermining your ability to make a sale.
c. try something new on the next call, and
keep plugging away.
d. consider another line of work.
|I didn't score this in
1999 but I remember that Goleman gave no points
for d. I need to check the web site where I found
the copy of the test to see if they also have
comment on this one in 1999, but it did inspire
me to think about Goleman's concept of EI. He
seems to believe that an emotionally intelligent
insurance salesman will stay motivated to talk
people into buying from him, even if his
conscience tells him that the people don't need
the insurance or the insurance is not good for
them financially. Also the person might feel bad
for bothering the people he is calling and know
that he is really just trying to use them for his
own personal gain. Yet Goleman seems to
indirectly advocate that the salesman ignore his
inner feelings and focus on making money. This is
one of the many things I don't like about Goleman
and his concept of EI.
|5. You are a manager in an
organization that is trying to encourage respect
for racial and ethnic diversity. You overhear
someone telling a racist joke. What do you do?
itits only a joke.
b. call the person into your office for a
c. speak up on the spot, saying that such
jokes are inappropriate and will not be
tolerated in your organization.
d. suggest to the person telling the joke he
go through a diversity training program.
|20 for c
0 for a, b, d
question and answer Goleman shows his own
personal bias by saying the only correct thing to
do is: "Speak up on the spot, saying that
such jokes are inappropriate and will not be
tolerated in your organization."
I am not sure how Goleman would
justify this answer as being a sign of high EQ.
This is clearly his personal belief. I first
noticed his strong personal bias against anything
he believes is "racist" or "racial
intolerance" in his 1995 book when he
attacked, by name, a US corporation for it's
allegedly racist management practices.
Another way Goleman reveals
more about himself is by his use of the word
"inappropriate." On reading Goleman I
get a clear indication that he believes he is the
judge of what is and isn't
(When I went back and read
Goleman's explanation of his answer I see that he
makes it clear he believes in external control of
behavior (through fear in this case, the fear of
getting fired) and the forced imposition of one's
"morals" and values on another. This is
one reason I call him the "BF Skinner"
of emotional intelligence!)
reference to intolerance suggests that he
believes one can be emotionally intelligent, as
he loosely defines it, and yet be intolerant! I
find this hard to rationalize. I believe
tolerance is a reflection of compassion,
something which Goleman himself stated so
passionately that we need more of! (Goleman,
1995, p xii)
At any rate, this question
and Goleman's "correct" answer provides
us with one of the clearest signs of how he has
slipped his own personal belief system into his
presentation of emotional intelligence. Or
perhaps we might even say how he has shaped his
presentation of emotional intelligence to fit his
own belief system.
|6. You are trying to calm
down a friend who has worked himself up into a
fury at a driver in another car who has cut
dangerously close in front of him. What do you
a. tell him to forget it; hes okay now and
its no big deal.
b. put on one of his favourite tapes and try to
c. join him in putting down the other driver, but
exaggerate your reaction.
d. tell him about a time something like this
happened to you and how you felt as mad as he
does now, but then you saw the other driver was
on the way to a hospital emergency room.
|5 points for b and c
20 points for d
0 points for a
|I have several
problems with this. First, Goleman gives points
for trying to distract the driver out of his
feelings. I believe we already are far, far too
dependent on distractions, and we need to focus
on our feelings and understand them.
2015 Note from Steve Hein - Today I
noticed that in question 2 about the child who
was crying Goleman gave no points for
distraction, but here he does.
Next, I disagree with the
idea that joining in the attack is emotionally
intelligent. I suspect this will simply help the
driver feel justified in his anger, and perhaps
even escalate the situation.
Finally, I strongly
disagree with Goleman's idea of giving the guy a
little lecture. I think a lot of people would
tell someone to shut up if they started that on
them. It is clearly invalidating. Much better
would be to let the driver talk about why it
bothers them so much, show some understanding and
empathy, rather than acting superior. Whenever
someone is upset, it is they who need to do the
talking. They don't need a lecture, they need
someone to listen to them. I suggest that this is
obvious to someone who is truly emotionally
In this case, the basis for
the anger is fear. As Goleman says, the other
driver cut dangerously close to him. An
emotionally intelligent response might be
"Wow, that was a little scary." With
this response you are doing three important
things 1) showing empathy, 2) de-escalating the
situation 3) helping the driver label their
See EQI section on anger
|7. You and your boyfriend or
girlfriend have gotten into an argument that has
escalated into a shouting match; in the heat of
anger, you are both making personal attacks you
dont really mean. Whats the best
thing to do?
a. take a 20-minute break and then continue the
b. just stop the argumentgo silent, no
matter what your partner says.
c. say youre sorry and ask your partner to
d. stop for a moment, collect your thoughts, then
state your side of the argument as clearly as you
|20 for a
0 for b,c,d
|I have no idea
how Goleman came up with this one as being the
are some of my suggestions:
- Ask the other person how
much they feel understood by you, from 0-10. Then
try to get it up to at least 8.
- Try to help the other
person name specific feelings, using feeling words, in an emotionally literate way.
- Ask what would help the
other person feel better
- Reflect on what kind of
feelings you want to create in the relationship
|8. You have been assigned to
lead a work group that is trying to come up with
a creative solution to a nagging problem at work.
What is the first thing you do?
a. draw up an agenda and allot time
for discussion of each item so you make best use
of your time together.
b. have people take the time to get to know each
c. begin by asking each person for ideas about
how to solve the problem, while ideas are fresh.
d. start with a brainstorming session,
encouraging everyone to say whatever comes to
mind, no matter how wild.
|20 for b
0 for a, c, d
|9. Imagine that you have a
5-year-old son who is extremely timid, and has
been hypersensitive aboutand a bit fearful
ofnew places and people since he was born.
What do you do?
a. accept that he has a shy temperament and think
of ways to shelter him from situations that would
b. take him to a child psychiatrist for help.
c. purposely expose him to lots of new people and
places so he can get over his fear.
d. engineer an ongoing series of challenging but
manageable experiences that will teach him he can
handle new people and places.
|5 for b
20 for d
0 for a, c
another confusing scoring system. And I found it
noteworthy that Goleman would give someone 5
points for responding that they would take their
child to a child psychiatrist. Does this say
something about Goleman's belief in the use of
medication to get "socially desirable
behavior" out of children--or adults? Does
it say something about his belief in the cause
effect relationship of parents and children?
Also there is very little practical
difference between c and d, yet Goleman gives no
points for c and 20 for d.
|10. For some time now, you
have been wanting to get back to playing the
musical instrument you learned to play when you
were younger. You have finally gotten around to
practicing again, and want to make the best use
of your time. What do you do?
a. hold yourself to a strict practice time every
b. choose pieces that stretch your abilities a
c. practice only when you are really in the mood.
d. pick pieces that are far beyond your ability,
but that you can master with diligent effort.
|20 for b
0 for a, c, d
Remember that this is a self-reporting test,
so answers don't necessarily reflect true behavior.
Further, I suggest that anyone with high IQ and a
knowledge of the test author's personal biases could
easily increase his score. Also, note that as of
November, 1999 Goleman is listed as a
"contributor" to the Utne magazine, which
suggests to me a financial relationship.
comments (Feb 2006), part 1
As I look at this test again and think more
about how Goleman scored it, I tend to think that either
a) Goleman is not a very open minded person, or b) he
thinks the public is not very smart.
As for "a" I say this
because his answers are often very black or white, and
very simplistic. It also gives me more evidence that
Goleman is quite judgmental and thinks he knows just how
the would should be and what people should do and what is
"appropriate" and "inappropriate." Note
that he uses the word "inappropriate" in his
answer to question 5 about the racist joke.
As for "b" one reason I
say this is when I look at question 1, about the
airplane. Answer d is "not sure. never
noticed." Now how could someone have never noticed
"extremely bad turbulence"? I think to myself,
"How stupid does he think some people are?"
(Then again I think of the school
director in Peru who told
me he didn't know whether one of the teachers was his
wife! See more on this.)
I say this also because it is
possible that Goleman knows that there are lots more
possible answers than the ones he has offered and he
simply watered them down for the public, thinking that we
aren't smart enough to handle more complexity.
Or he may have simply been busy
when he was writing the test and didn't put much time or
thought into it. Or he may have had someone else write
it, or copied it from somewhere else. Or he may have just
wanted to write a test to go with his little article for
Utne, which they probably were paying him for, and he may
have wanted to do it as quickly as possible just to meet
a deadline and get paid for the article.
Again I am struck by the fact that
Goleman is so popular and so wealthy, yet we really know
so little about who he actually is, how he thinks, what
he really believes, how he feels and what motivates him.
|New comments part 2 - Goleman's lack
just did a search of the original test and Goleman's
answers. I was looking for the words "feel" and
"feelings". Nowhere in either the test or the
answers does Goleman use either word. (Though he does use
the word "felt" one time.)
I really wonder how someone can
write a whole book about emotional intelligence and then
not even use these words in what is supposed to be a
practical test of one's EI.
I am so puzzled by Dan Goleman. To
me he is an enigma.
longer I study Goleman's answers, the more I am led to
believe he really does not have very good emotional
skills. I won't say he is not emotionally intelligent.
These are quite different things to me, though they don't
seem to be different to him. At any rate, Goleman
generally doesn't offer us answers which include talking
directly about feelings.
Look at the answers he gives to the
problem of the child who feels left out, number 9. He
never says "Ask her how she feels" or
"Tell her how you feel." Or "Ask her what
would help her feel better."
And in the question about the
couple arguing, number 7, he also leaves out possible
answers such as "Ask how much your partner feels
understood from 0 to 10, then try to listen and show
understanding till the number improves"
I believe that if Goleman were more
emotionally skilled, he would be able to come up with
better answers. And though I don't want to sound
arrogant, I really believe if he would read my site he
could get some helpful ideas. Then again, we don't know
what his answers would be like these days, since the test
is over 10 years old. But my guess is that Goleman talks
less about feelings now than he did back then. I say this
because it seems his time has been spent in corporate
boardrooms and managers offices, where feelings are
typically only talked about indirectly if at all.
For some of my suggestions on how
to improve our emotional skills see listening, understanding,
validating and emotional literacy
|The Peruvian School Director
I have a story about a school director in
Peru who answered "I don't know" when I asked
him if one of the teachers was his wife! Unfortunately
the story is only in Spanish so far, but if you want to
have a look, here it is - Colegio1.htm