Emotional Quotient or emotional intelligence means street smarts, being good with people, intuitively understanding emotions, having his/her way with people, able to influence them, seduce them and having empathy.
This is what you get when you ask someone to describe an individual with high emotional intelligence. But what is the Emotional Quotient?
In our last post, we explained IQ and how it holds up as a concept. Well, in contrast with IQ, emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a different story.
Deconstructing the Myth of Emotional Intelligence
It all started when Daniel Goleman highjacked the term Emotional Intelligence and popularized it with his homonymous book. He claimed that this was a valid psychometric concept that described “people’s skills”.
While a paper from Michael Meldoch first mentioned the term without giving it much gravity, the book was quickly regarded as sub-par from the science community, because of its extreme claims.
Goleman himself was a journalist and thus the book was merely pop-psychology. But that made it all more widely spread to the general population.
The big question: What does the Emotional Quotient measure after all?
This is where things really get downhill. We don’t have a valid model to statistically measure it. Goleman created a trait out of thin air, without distinguishing it from other ones.
Plus, there are many different models that try to identify different Emotional Quotient traits, which is a no-no. Photometry works with regressive functions that boil each individual trait down to its very core.
If anything, it is a mix of the (well validated) Big Five model, specifically the trait agreeableness and openness.
Goleman tried to categorize and essentially conflate personality traits and morality with intelligence. Being polite, understanding, and empathetic doesn’t measure your ability to think fast nor is there any statistical correlation with the real world.
So, what the Emotional Quotient does, is to take already known concepts and make them relatable. But why?
Emotional Quotient: Marketing and the Pledge for a Consensus
Imagine taking an IQ test that results in an average score. You thought you were something special, but now it turns out that you are very similar to everyone else. How are you going to feel special now?
Oh, wait! You are very good with people. You may suck at math, but that’s not the only intelligence, right? You are mature, grounded and good-hearted.
This and about 1000 more feel-good, abstract and self-imposed assertions created the term Emotional Quotient ot Emotional Intelligence. Goleman capitalized on the vanity of people. It’s selling 101. And to be honest, this wouldn’t be a problem if EQ hadn’t spawned an abundance of “fake” branches of social science.
Instead of focusing on the exploration of the human brain, social science focuses on feely and superficial studies (which by the way have zero citations most of the time). What makes it even worse, is that a shaky concept like Emotional Intelligence holds power in the mental health community, giving patently wrong conjectures and false hopes about already tormented people on the altar of political correctness.
Is the Emotional Intelligence a Scam?
OK, I gave you the hard facts. BUT I have to admit there is a piece missing in terms of what intelligence is, which the Emotional Quotient filled (poorly). We have to admit that some people intuitively understand others and their motives, predicting what they’ll say before they do.
Maybe it’s a combination of a high verbal IQ, general intelligence, extroversion, and agreeableness? Perhaps. Maybe MBTI (another psychological model) could fill in those holes.
All I am saying is that it’s up for discussion. We should judge and not hop on any bandwagon, that gives a seemingly good answer to our poor understanding. Remember, it took more than 100 years to define IQ (and we aren’t by no means finished). We need patience and hard logic. Don’t let emotionalism take over science!
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