Emotional intelligence is essential when it comes to building a well-balanced life. According to the World Economic Forum, emotional intelligence was ranked as of the top 10 most important workplace skills, when it comes to what workers will need in order to be successful in 2020.
Emotional intelligence is a crucial and key ingredient of great leadership as well. There are many key figures when it comes to emotional intelligence from Daniel Goleman’s work to the work of Travis Bradberry to Howard Gardner, and in this article, we will examine all of that and more.
Research is the key to learning more about emotional intelligence and how it impacts our life.
Emotional intelligence is that ability you have that allows you to be smart about your feelings and emotions. Those who are emotionally intelligent are also smart when it comes to sensing the feelings and emotions of others.
In this article, we will briefly review the history of emotional intelligence, who first coined the term as well as who is considered the founder of emotional intelligence. From Salovey and Mayer’s contribution to the work of Dr. David Walton and John Gottman, the field of emotional intelligence continues to both motivate and inspire us to learn more.
Should you want to learn how to professionally teach, coach, and increase emotional intelligence, be sure to check out the Emotional Intelligence Masterclass©.
This article contains:
- The History of Emotional Intelligence
- Who Coined the Term Emotional Intelligence
- Who is Considered the Founder Of Emotional Intelligence?
- Daniel Goleman’s Work on Emotional Intelligence
- Goleman’s Theory of EQ
- The Work Of Travis Bradberry
- Salovey and Mayer’s Contribution to the Concept
- Gill Hasson’s Books and Ideas on EQ
- Dr. David Walton and his Work on EQ
- John Gottman and Emotional Intelligence
- A Look at Howard Gardner?
- Phineas Gage: The Definitive Emotional Intelligence Case Study
- A Take-Home Message
The History of Emotional Intelligence
In 1985, a man by the name of Wayne Leon Payne, a graduate student wrote a doctoral dissertation that happened to include the term “emotional intelligence.”
This may very well be the first academic usage of the term emotional intelligence. Over the next five years, there seemed to be no other use of the term, in academic research.
In 1990, John Mayer and Peter Salovey, two American university professors, were doing research in order to develop ways to scientifically measure the difference between people’s abilities in and around their emotions.
Mayer and Salovey soon discovered that some people seemed to be better than others when it came to identifying others’ feelings and solving problems involving emotional issues. They also seemed to be better at identifying their own feelings.
One of these research papers was titled “Emotional Intelligence“.
Since then, Salovey and Mayer have developed two tests for measuring what they deemed emotional intelligence. However, since most of their work has been done academically, their names and research are not as widely known or recognized.
In terms of well-known research in emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman is probably one of the most widely recognized. Goleman, a New York writer, and consultant began writing articles for Popular Psychology in the early 90s and then later wrote for the New York Times.
In 1992, while doing research for a book on emotions and emotional literacy, he discovered an article by Salovey and Mayer. According to the article, written by Annie Paul, Goleman proceeded to ask permission to use the term “emotional intelligence” in his book. Goleman was granted permission, as long as he was forthright in telling people where the term came from.
When Goleman’s book, “Emotional Intelligence” was published in 1995, the book made the cover of the Times Magazine. Goleman then began appearing on various TV shows including Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey. He also began a speaking tour in order to promote the book, which became an international bestseller. The book remained on the New York Times best-seller list for a year.
There are some in the field who believe that Goleman may have misrepresented the original definition of emotional intelligence. In the original book, Goleman went into a lot of detail on the brain, emotions, and behavior.
According to Annie Paul, Goleman “distorted their model in disturbing ways.”
John Mayer has been quoted as stating that Goleman broadened the definition of emotional intelligence to such an extent that it no longer had any scientific meaning or utility. He was also quoted as saying that emotional intelligence was no longer a clear predictor of outcome.
While Mayor and Salovey may have started the trend in emotional intelligence research, Goleman’s work took off in a big way.
His book, “Working with Emotional Intelligence,” published in 1998, widened the definition even more, stating that emotional intelligence consisted of 25 skills, abilities and competencies. Since then there have been many more definitions when it comes to emotional intelligence and many claims about what it is and how it works.
Who Coined the Term Emotional Intelligence?
Salovey and Mayer coined the term “emotional intelligence” in 1990, describing it as a:
“Form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.”
Salovey and Mayer also started a research program, with the intention of developing valid measurements of emotional intelligence. The research was also meant to explore the significance of emotional intelligence.
In one study in which a group of individuals were watching a film that was upsetting, the group that scored higher when it came to emotional clarity recovered much more quickly on average.
Emotional clarity was defined as the ability to identify and give a name to a certain mood that was being felt and experienced. In another study, those who scored higher in their ability to accurately perceive, understand, and assess others’ emotions, were better able to respond in a flexible manner when it came to changes in their social network and environment.
Who is Considered the Founder Of Emotional Intelligence?
The research and understanding, as well as the implementation of Emotional Intelligence, continue to grow dramatically.
Over the past decade, the term has grown and evolved. A plethora of scholars, researchers, coaches and consultants, and even neurobiologists have contributed to the theory and understanding.
Mayer and Salovey proposed the original framework of emotional intelligence, according to Raz & Zysberg (2014). It was defined as:
- Identifying emotions in the self and others.
- Integrating emotions into thought processes.
- Effectively processing complex emotions.
- Regulating one’s own emotions and the emotions of others.
Many studies have since shown that EI may, in fact, predict and account for a broad range of human behaviors, among them mental and physical health, life-satisfaction (self-reported) and well-being, positive social interactions, academic achievements, and work performance (Raz & Zysberg, 2014).
Psychologists continue this trend even to this day through their various research and workplace applications.
Goleman’s initial published research surmised that up to 67% of all competencies that were deemed essential for high performers were actually related to emotional intelligence or EQ. When it came to high performers the idea of EQ seemed to be a great advantage at the highest levels of leadership.
According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, John Mayer and Peter Salovey are generally considered the founders of emotional intelligence. In 1987, the term emotional intelligence didn’t even exist yet.
The brilliant idea came about one summer when Salovey was painting his home along with his friend John Mayer. Salovey studied emotions and behavior, while Mayer studied the link between emotions and thought.
While they were painting and working they collaborated and discussed different theories of intelligence. The two also discussed the concern that certain theories of intelligence had no clear way of placing emotions.
As they worked, they talked about the idea of a new kind of intelligence, the ability to understand recognize, utilize, and regulate emotions effectively in day-to-day life.
In a paper that was published in 1990, Salovey and Mayer described a revolutionary new idea – that of “emotional intelligence. ” This may very well be the start of the emotional intelligence trend.
The idea began to catch on and Salovey proceeded to become one of the field’s prestigious leaders, moving the idea of emotional intelligence forward. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence continues to explore what emotional intelligence really means. The Center’s current director is Marc Brackett. Peter Salovey now serves as Yale’s 23rd president. He continues to carry out his original mission.
Daniel Goleman’s Work on Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman’s work has introduced millions of people to the idea and concept of emotional intelligence. While Salovey and Mayer may have coined the term EI, Goleman popularized it through his work and books.
According to Goleman, skills like self-awareness and self-motivation are either instilled or destroyed in childhood. However, Goleman proclaims that adults can still learn and apply these skills.
While Daniel Goleman was not the first to articulate the concept of emotional intelligence, his work did make the elements of emotional intelligence much more accessible to the broad segment of our society. Thanks to Daniel Goleman, educators now see and recognize the idea of emotional intelligence and how important it truly is.
EI in Schools and the Workplace
As a result of Goleman’s work, thousands of schools throughout the world utilize and incorporate social and emotional learning into their curricula.
Goleman’s work with emotional intelligence has changed the way we view the idea of IQ as well. When it comes right down to it, having a high IQ does not automatically guarantee success in life.
By the 1980s, psychologists were focused on the importance of other skill sets that may be needed to process information and promote success and leadership. These same skill sets are also important in terms of personal fulfillment and happiness in relationships.
Goleman’s Theory of EQ
Goleman expanded on Mayer and Salovey’s ideals, utilizing five essential elements of emotional intelligence:
- Emotional self-awareness or being aware of what you are feeling moment to moment as well as seeking to understand the impact this has on others.
- Self-regulation or attempting to control or redirect your emotions and learning to anticipate the consequences before you act on impulse.
- Motivation or utilizing emotional factors to overcome and persevere.
- Empathy or learning how to tune in and sense the emotions of others.
- Social skills or learning how to effectively manage relationships and inspire others.
Daniel Goleman was born on March 7, 1946, in Stockton, California. He is a psychologist, writer, professor as well as a journalist and motivator. Goleman worked at the New York Times for more than 10 years, writing about the brain and behavioral sciences.
According to Goleman, emotional intelligence is not a thing to be looked for, but something that is a part of you and an integral part of your inner-self. Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence” breaks several myths about IQ while proposing a complementary model of EQ.
Goleman believes IQ tests are designed to screen candidates based upon their ability to process information, as opposed to their likelihood of success.
According to Goleman, the infamous IQ only contributes to 20% of our success in life. In light of that, we must ask ourselves what is happening with the other 80%?
The remaining 80% is the result of emotional intelligence.
This EQ includes factors such as:
- The ability to self-motivate.
- Control of impulses.
- Regulation of empathy, humor, and hope.
Goleman sees IQ and EQ as skills that work separately, not opposing.
What this means is you might have someone who is brilliant on an intellectual level, but emotionally unfit. This misalignment may, in fact, be the cause of some of the biggest problems in life people face.
The Work Of Travis Bradberry
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the co-founder of TalentSmart and co-author of the book, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0“. TalentSmart is a consultancy that works with Fortune 500 companies providing emotional intelligence training as well as tests.
The book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” outlines TalentSmart’s step-by-step program for increasing your emotional intelligence. The book contains 66 proven strategies that teach things like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
The research in the book is based on more than 500,000 people worldwide. According to Dr. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, the program can help people identify their level of emotional intelligence while helping to build their EQ skills.
The book’s findings shed some much-needed light on difficult issues such as:
- Gender differences in terms of emotional intelligence.
- Generational differences in emotional intelligence.
- Cultural changes in terms of emotional intelligence.
- Societal shifts in overall emotional intelligence.
Dr. Bradberry is a world-renowned expert when it comes to emotional intelligence. He has spoken at Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Boston Scientific, and Wells Fargo among many other venues.
The book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is available here on Amazon Kindle.
Salovey and Mayer’s Contribution to the Concept
Mayer & Salovey’s model of emotional intelligence (Mayer & Salovey, 1997) introduced the concept of emotional intelligence as a cognitive ability, which is separate from that of general intelligence.
The proposed model introduced four abilities or branches composed of:
- Perception of emotion.
- Emotional facilitation.
- Understanding of emotions.
- Management of emotions.
These concepts are ordered from the basic to the higher order abilities, which are thought to develop as one matures.
The perception of emotion includes non-verbal signals and stimuli such as art and landscapes.
Emotional facilitation has to do with the ability of emotions:
- To help us think in terms of signaling environmental changes.
- Help us change moods to see situations in different ways.
- Assist us in different types of reasoning.
Understanding emotions involve concepts such as knowledge of emotions, emotional vocabulary, as well as changing emotions and creating other emotions over time.
Managing emotions has to do with the ability to not only manage your own own emotions in a healthy way but to also manage the emotions of others.
EI as a set of skills
The journal article “Emotional Intelligence” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990) presented a framework for emotional intelligence describing it as a set of skills, thought to contribute to the accurate appraisal of the expression of emotion in the self as well as others.
It also presented EQ as the use of feelings that can help us motivate, plan and achieve things in life. According to the research, one tradition in Western thought views emotions as a mere disorganized interruption of one’s mental activity.
This disruption may even be so bad that the emotions must be controlled.
Writings by Publilius Syrus in the first century B.C. even went as far as stating:
“Rule your feelings, lest your feelings rule you.”
Modern introductory texts also suggest that emotions are a disorganized response, largely visceral, resulting from a lack of effective adjustment.
Looking at these interpretations of emotions we can see that we have come a long way in terms of emotional intelligence and it all started with Salovey and Mayer.
Gill Hasson’s Books and Ideas on EQ
Gill Hasson is a teacher, writer, and trainer based out of Brighton in the UK. Hasson has written many books including:
- Emotional Intelligence: Managing Emotions to Make a Positive Impact on Your Life and Career (Amazon).
- Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook: Little Exercises for an Intuitive Life (Amazon).
- The Mindfulness Pocketbook and Happiness: How to Get into the Habit of Being Happy (Amazon).
Hasson has worked as a tutor for adult education organizations, training organizations and the University of Sussex. She specializes in and teaches personal development courses and topics such as confidence and self-esteem, assertiveness, communication skills, and resilience.
Hasson also teaches professional development courses involving counseling skills, mentoring and a course for people training to teach in adult education. Hasson writes articles on personal development and self-improvement for magazines such as Psychologies and Natural Health as well.
In Hasson’s book “Emotional Intelligence: Managing Emotions to Make a Positive Impact on Your Life and Career“, she talks about the idea of emotional intelligence as a skill that can be mastered that will help you unlock your true potential.
Hasson talks about the idea that being clever, talented or skilled may not be enough to be successful in life. What is important is your ability to manage your feelings, and manage other people in terms of interactions.
Hasson believes we are all born with this ability and that the idea of emotional intelligence is a skill each of us has. It’s simply a matter of developing that skill. In the book Hasson, attempts to change the way we think about our emotions. She does not look at emotions as something that is black or white or positive and negative.
Instead, she promotes the idea that all emotions can have a positive intent and all emotions have our best interests in mind.
Hasson believes that in order to improve our emotional intelligence we must improve our ability to understand and manage emotions. When we ramp up our emotional intelligence, we can think more clearly, manage stress better and handle challenges better. With the idea of emotional intelligence, we will also be able to empathize, trust and communicate better and feel more confident, according to Hasson’s work. Gill’s books are available on Amazon.
Dr. David Walton and his Work on EQ
Dr. David Walton is a specialist in behavioral change. His book, “Emotional Intelligence: A Practical Guide” is a great example of a book that serves to cultivate emotional intelligence.
The book goes into details to help you not only control your own emotions but to help you grasp and influence how others may feel. The book uses tools that can help develop mindfulness, strengthen willpower, cultivate a positive outlook and even reduce conflict and improve relationships. As you explore the concepts in the book you will learn to be more assertive and increase your empathy.
Dr. Walton runs a community education program on mental health, depression, cognitive therapy, and child development and has worked for the UN, the UK government and in private industry.
Dr. Walton’s book is mainly aimed at organizational managers who may be interested in improving their interpersonal skills at a professional level. The book, Emotional Intelligence: A Practical Guide is available here on Amazon.
John Gottman and Emotional Intelligence
John Gottman, Ph.D. is the co-founder of The Gottman Institute. Gottman is world-renowned for his research on marital stability. He is the author of over 200 published academic articles and author and co-author of over 40 books including Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.
Gottman’s work involves children and strengthening emotional intelligence.
According to Gottman’s research, children begin consistently using more complex strategies for emotional self-regulation around the age of 10. These strategies are often broken down into two categories:
- Those that attempt to solve the problem.
- Those that attempt to tolerate the emotion.
In Gottman’s research, he discovered that when children attempt to make a change to address a problem or issue they engage in problem-solving. As part of this, they work to identify the trouble and then proceed to make plans for dealing with it.
On the other hand, if they deem an issue or problem unsolvable, they engage in emotion-focused coping and work to tolerate or control the distress they may feel. Gottman feels that academic achievement in childhood has been the primary focus over the years while emotional self-regulation has been for the most part ignored or underrepresented.
Given the fact that emotional intelligence is twice as strong a predictor of later success in life when compared to IQ, this is a poor strategy, according to Gottman. In one study, done in New Zealand, with more than 1,000 children involving cognitive control during school-age years, it was discovered that mental ability or EQ predicted financial success even better than IQ or the wealth of the family one grew up in.
Gottman’s research also reviews a five-step system of emotion coaching, as seen in the diagram below.
The Five Steps of Emotion Coaching
- Becoming more aware of your child’s emotions.
- Recognizing your child’s emotion as an opportunity for teaching or connection.
- Helping your child label their emotions verbally.
- Communicating empathy and understanding.
- Setting limits and problem-solving.
This type of cognitive control has the potential to level the socio-economic playing field, according to Gottman.
A Look at Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner is a professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is also an adjunct professor at Harvard as well as senior director of the Harvard Project Zero.
Gardner has authored over 30 books and is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences. The book, Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice, distills nearly 3 decades of research on multiple intelligences theory and practice.
Gardner introduces the concepts of:
- Global applications,
- Multiple intelligences in the workplace,
- And an assessment of multiple intelligence practices in the current educational climate.
Gardner also reviews new evidence about brain functioning and nurturing intelligence in early childhood. Gardner introduced the theory of multiple intelligences in the early 1980s. He believes that human cognitive competence is best described in terms of a set of abilities, as well as mental skills or talents, which he calls intelligence.
He believes that all individuals possess each of these skills in some way, shape or form.
Gardner’s Work On Multiple Intelligences
In his theory, people simply differ in the degree and the nature of these combinations. This theory goes beyond the traditional point of view where someone has the ability to answer questions on a test of intelligence.
Multiple intelligences are framed in light of the biological origins of each problem-solving skill. One example is language.
Language may manifest in different ways from writing in one culture to oratory in another to a secret language composed of anagrams or tongue twisters in another. According to Gardner, we are all so different because we have different combinations of intelligences. Gardner truly believes that if we could mobilize our full range of human intelligence and then ally them to an ethical sense that we could then increase the likelihood of our planetary survival as well as our ability to thrive.
Phineas Gage: The Definitive Emotional Intelligence Case Study
In 1848 a man by the name of Phineas Gage sustained a terrible injury to his head. At the time, Gage, a 25-year-old man, was working as a foreman in support of the construction of the Rutland and Burlington Railroad in Vermont, USA.
Gage was injured during the construction, while the team was using explosive charges to blast away rock to clear a path for the railroad. As the story goes, Gage was using something called a tamping iron, a long hollow cylinder of iron that weighed about 6 kilos.
A Fateful Accident
On that fateful day, September 13, Gage’s iron rod hit the rock; accidently creating a spark that ignited the explosives. What happened next was unbelievable.
The rod was then propelled through Gage’s skull, entering through the left cheekbone and exiting through his skull, and the top of his head. The rod was then found approximately 30 yards away, smeared with brain and blood. However, despite this horrendous injury, Gage preceded to sit up and recount consciously what had just occurred.
Dr. John Harlow then dressed and cleaned the injury while examining Gage. Despite the doctor’s efforts to clean the wound and make sure that no brain fragments were left behind, the wound became infected and Gage fell into a semi-comatose like state.
While everyone prepared for Gage to die, Gage actually recovered later on that year. Henry J. Bigelow, a professor of surgery at Harvard University eventually reported that Gage was quite recovered in faculties of mind and body.
A Changed Man
Despite his recovery, Gage began to change. Gage’s personality and character began to shift dramatically. Gage became fitful, irreverent, even indulging at times in gross profanity. Gage changed so much so that his friends said he was no longer Gage.
So what happened, you might ask?
While the details may be unclear, it does seem like Gage suffered brain damage, most likely to the frontal cortex caused by the iron rod. This, in turn, resulted in the loss of social inhibitions.
At the time of his accident, little was really known about exactly how the frontal cortex worked in things like making decisions and social cognition. Neurologists were only just beginning to make these connections. Gage’s injuries were most-likely one of the first recorded evidence that the frontal cortex was involved in personality and behavior.
David Ferrier, a Scottish neurologist at the time who did research in cerebral function determined that damage to the frontal cortices had little to no effect in terms of physical abilities, in his research with primates.
However, his research did show a very decided alteration in the animal’s character and behavior. He then used the experience of Phineas Gage as a case study to fully support his claims. The details of Gage’s life after his accident are not fully known.
It is known that he worked as a coach driver for several years in New Hampshire before moving to Chile. After that point in time, Gage’s health declined and he returned to the U.S. Gage died in San Francisco in 1860 after suffering seizures that were most likely the result of his injury. We still have much to learn about the brain. Gage’s story is a fascinating one that is a good reminder that there is still a lot to learn when it comes to the miraculous brain.
A Take Home Message
The idea of emotional intelligence is both intriguing and fascinating. It certainly seems like the more you learn, the more there is to learn.
What we do know is that emotional intelligence is a valuable skill to develop and it can certainly help you succeed and thrive in life.
To help further the concept, it pays to start practicing emotional intelligence. You can do this by being more transparent and open about how you feel and by making an effort to reach out to others in the same way.
While emotional intelligence may not be something that can be developed and perfected overnight, with awareness and practice comes growth and understanding.
What do you think?
- Brain case study: Phineas Gage. (n.d.). Phineas Gage. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://bigpictureeducation.com/brain-case-study-phineas-gage
- Estafanous, J. (2019, February 25). Why Emotional Intelligence Is More Important Than Ever. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/swlh/why-emotional-intelligence-is-more-important-than-ever-256794ffda67
- Edutopia. (2001, February 22). Emotional-Intelligence Research: Indicators Point to the Importance of SEL. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.edutopia.org/emotional-intelligence-research
- Hein, S. (2005, January). Introduction to Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://www.eqi.org/history.htm
- Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. (n.d.). Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from http://ei.yale.edu/
- Gollis, C. (n.d.). Imagination Cognition and Personality. Retrieved from http://www.emotionalintelligencecourse.com/history-of-eq/
- Raz, S., & Zysberg, L. (2014). Emotional Intelligence : Current Evidence From Psychophysiological, Educational and Organizational Perspectives. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Retrieved from http://librarydb.northwood.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=941571&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Moffitt, T. E., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Poulton, R., Roberts, B.W., Ross, S., Sears, M.R., Thomson, W.M., & Caspi, A. (2011, February 15). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Retrieved from https://www.pnas.org/content/108/7/2693.full
- Moran, S., and Gardner, H. (2018). ‘Hill, Skill, and Will: Executive function from a multiple intelligences perspective.’ In L. Metzer (Ed.), Executive function in education: From theory to practice, Second Edition. New York: Guilford Press, pp. 25-56.
- Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. (1990). Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2190/DUGG-P24E-52WK-6CDGTeam, 1.
- 12min Team. (2019). Emotional Intelligence PDF Summary – Daniel Goleman. Retrieved from https://blog.12min.com/emotional-intelligence-summary/
- Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey, & D. J. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications (pp. 3-31). New York, NY. Basic Books.
- Meltzer, L. (2006). Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED493739