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with Mainstream Concept of EI
One of the problems with defining emotional intelligence is the problem with the terms used in creating the definition. For example, the leading researchers, Mayer and Salovey, talk about the ability model of EI. (See EI definitions) They also say their test, the MSCEIT, is an ability test of emotional intelligence. Yet what do they mean by ability? I used Microsoft Word to check some synonyms for ability. Here are three things I found:
So it goes like this
If we then consider a baby, it seems fair to say that A baby has potential, but not skills. So what did Mayer and Salovey mean when they first started talking about ability? Did they mean potential? Or skill, proficiency and expertise?
If they mean it is a skill, or a "set of skills" as they first hypothesized in 1990, then there is a basic inconsistency in their thinking. Jack Mayer said you can't teach intelligence and he gave the example that we don't talk about teaching math "intelligence". (Source) I agree with him. You don't teach intelligence, you develop it. Yet I think even Jack and Peter Salovey would have to agree that skills can be taught.
So where does this leave their definition of EI? I am afraid it leaves it on an unstable, unsupportable foundation.
What we need then, is a better definition of emotional intelligence. If you are interested in my proposed definition you can see it on this page. But my goal in writing this article is not to promote my definition. It is to get you thinking about the problems with the Mayer Salovey definition and the problems with the Mayer Salovey Caruso test, the MSCEIT, which they call a test of emotional intelligence. If their definition of EI is flawed, then how can we accept their test as being a true test of emotional intelligence?
I personally feel sad as I write this. For a long time I supported the work of Jack, Peter and David. But with time I have seen more and more problems with it. I feel sad because I don't know of anyone else who has put as much thought or effort into designing what might deserve to be called a definition of emotional intelligence. I sincerely hope that someone in the academic community will offer us a new definition of EI which does not have same kinds of problems as the Mayer Salovey model.
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