What Is Emotional Intelligence?

ByABC News
August 27, 2002, 11:26 AM

Aug. 28 — -- Psychologists and social scientists began discussing something they called "social intelligence" as far back as the 1920s. In the decades since, the idea has been called "emotional factors" and "personal intelligence" among other things.

In 1980, psychologist Reuven Bar-On, who had been studying the idea, coined the phrase "emotional quotient." Finally, in 1990, John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire and Peter Salovey of Yale coined the phrase "emotional intelligence" and defined it.

It was Daniel Goleman's bestselling book Emotional Intelligence that popularized the idea. Two years later, Toronto-based MHS published the EQ-i, which was developed by Dr. Bar-On. It's the only scientifically based and validated measurement of emotional intelligence.

Mayer and Salovey define emotional intelligence as "the ability to monitor one's own and other's feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and action."

Bar-On defines it as "an array of noncognitive capabilities, competencies and skills that influence one's ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures."

In developing the EQ-i, Bar-On captured emotional intelligence in five areas, with 15 subsections or scales:


Emotional self-awareness: The ability to recognize and understand one's feelings and emotions, differentiate between them, and to know what caused them and why.

Assertiveness: The ability to express feelings, beliefs and thoughts and defend one's rights in a non-destructive way.

Self-regard: The ability to look at and understand oneself, respect and accept oneself, accepting one's perceived positive and negative aspects as well as one's limitations and possibilities.

Self-actualization: The ability to realize one's potential capacities and to strive to do that which one wants to do and enjoys doing.

Independence: The ability to be self-reliant and self-directed in one's thinking and actions and to be free of emotional dependency; these people may ask for and consider the advice of others, but they rarely depend on others to make important decisions or to do things for them.