Defining Emotional Intelligence

The term “emotional ntelligence” (EI) was first proposed as a construct by Mayer and Salovey 1990) although it was popularised by Daniel Goleman (1995).

Many people are familiar with the idea of IQ and EI, (sometimes known as EQ) and is intended to represent a different kind of intelligence to that measured by IQ. In recent years there has been a general acceptance that we have multiple intelligence beyond IQ and EI.

Most therapies and personal development approaches have understood the importance of emotions in helping people to reach their full potential. Much of the academic sources seem to overlook or ignore how understanding emotions has been used in areas such as
humanistic psychology, NLP, gestalt and transactional analysis for many years.

In today’s blog I will stay with the academic approach and we will explore other avenues later.

Salovey et al (2006) describe EI as “the ability to perceive and express emotions, to
understand and use them, and to manage them to foster personal growth”. They
emphasise their model to be competency based rather than a measurement of
personality trait.

The study of EI has divided into two main areas ability models as developed by Salovey et at (2006) and mixed trait-ability models that include (more clearly) personality traits
and characteristics such as Goleman (1995) and Bar-On (Bar-On 2000).

The mixed trait-ability models also refers to the ability to process and use data
gathered emotionally but adds in characteristics and traits such as motivation,
relating to others and optimism (Goldenberg et al 2006).

It could be argued that this model adds value in that it acknowledges the importance of
personality in relation to emotion however some suggest that nothing new has been added in terms of emotional functioning concepts and are not specifically allied to either concepts of emotion or intelligence (Goldenberg 2006).

A number of measures have been developed since 1990 to measure EI, for example:

  •  MEIS
  • Bar-On’s EQ-i
  • EIQ Dulewicz and Higgs (2003)
  • SSRI Schutte et al (1998)
  • Emotional Competence Inventory  (ECI)

As part of my MSc in Applied Positive Psychology I produced a paper evaluating the above models. If you would like a copy of this paper please contact me direct at

I will then send you a pdf of the paper. I have not included in my paper any of the emotional intelligence models that have been produced for more commercial use. A number of commercial EI questionnaires have appeared on the market, many of these do not seem to have any research behind them at all. It could be a case of buyer be ware!

Next week I will share with you more details about the Salovey, Meyer and Caruso model. I will start with an overview and then look at each “branch” in more detail over the next few weeks. This will include exploring how we can improve our Emotional Intelligence.

About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
This entry was posted in Emotional Awareness, Emotional Intelligence, NLP, Personal Development and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Defining Emotional Intelligence

  1. gatehouse13 says:

    Hej Melody, Just tripped over your blog on a link from LinkedIn. Love your simple and straightforward approach. Looking forward to reading more on EI! Have a great day, Jacqui

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