Emotional Intelligence (Goleman)

Summary: Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as the ability to identify, assess, and control one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and that of groups.

Originators: Many, including Howard Gardner (1983) and Daniel Goleman (1995), in a popular 1995 book entitled Emotional Intelligence.  Several other models and definitions have also been proposed.

Key Terms: conceptual elaboration sequence, theoretical elaboration sequence, simplifying conditions sequence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)


In the 1900s, even though traditional definitions of intelligence emphasized cognitive aspects such as memory and problem-solving, several influential researchers in the intelligence field of study had begun to recognize the importance of going beyond traditional types of intelligence (IQ). As early as 1920, for instance, E.L. Thorndike described “social intelligence” as the skill of understanding and managing others.  Howard Gardner  in 1983 described the idea of multiple intelligences, in which interpersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people) and intrapersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations) helped explain performance outcomes.

The first use of the term “emotional intelligence” is often attributed to A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence from 1985, by Wayne Payne. However, prior to this, the term “emotional intelligence” had appeared in Leuner (1966).  Stanley Greenspan (1989) also put forward an EI model, followed by Salovey and Mayer (1990), and Daniel Goleman (1995).  A distinction between emotional intelligence as a trait and emotional intelligence as an ability was introduced in 2000.

Daniel Goleman’s model (1998) focuses on EI as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance, and consists of five areas:

  1. Self-awareness – knowing one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
  2. Self-regulation – managing or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
  3. Social skill – managing other’s emotions to move people in the desired direction
  4. Empathy – recognizing, understanding, and considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions
  5. Motivation – motivating oneself and being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement.

To Golman, emotional competencies are not innate talents, but rather learned capabilities that must be worked on and can be developed to achieve outstanding performance. Goleman believes that individuals are born with a general emotional intelligence that determines their potential for learning emotional competencies.

Emotional Intelligence is not always widely accepted in the research community.  Goleman’s model of EI, for instance, has been criticized in the research literature as being merely “pop psychology.”  However, EI is still considered by many to be a useful framework especially for businesses.

For more information, see:

  • Thorndike, R.K. (1920). “Intelligence and Its Uses”, Harper’s Magazine 140, 227-335.
  • Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. New York: Basic Books.
  • Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books