What Is Emotional Intelligence?

By<a Href="mailto:bob@workingwounded.com">bob Rosner</a>, Allan Halcrow and Alan Levins

Aug. 28 &#0151;, 2002 -- 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.


Interpersonal relations: The ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships that are characterized by intimacy and by giving and receiving affection.

Empathy: The ability to be attentive to, to understand, and to appreciate the feelings of others; being able to "emotionally read" other people.

Social responsibility: The ability to demonstrate oneself as a cooperative, contributing, and constructive member of one's social group.


Problem solving: The ability to identify and define problems, as well as to generate and implement potentially effective solutions.

Reality testing: The ability to assess the correspondence between what is experienced (the subjective) and what in reality exists (the objective).

Flexibility: The ability to adjust one's emotions, thoughts, and behavior to changing situations and conditions.

Stress Management

Stress tolerance: The ability to withstand adverse events and stressful situations without falling apart by actively and confidently coping with stress.

Impulse control: The ability to resist or delay an impulse, drive, or temptation to act.

General Mood

Happiness: The ability to feel satisfied with one's life, to enjoy oneself and others, and to have fun.

Optimism: The ability to look at the brighter side of life and to maintain a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity.

Source: Multi-Health Systems, Toronto

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