• Opublikowane 19 Grudzień, 2016

I am intelligent but am I actually wise? About emotional intelligence

High intelligence quotient does not yet guarantee a spectacular success. The most intelligent people not always manage their lives effectively. What determines this state? In order to achieve goals one has to know how to use his or her potential, how to cope with stress, how to manage emotions and what strategies to use in everyday interpersonal relationships.

Years ago, an American magazine “Time” published an information on its cover that the best independent variable of success is not knowledge, not intellectual abilities but emotional intelligence (EQ).

Most of the time you are in an emotional state, even if you are unaware of that. In this very moment there is a great probability that you have in yourself the emotion of curiosity about what you will read in a minute. That is good - the information stated in the article is a study of claims of modern psychology regarding EQ and controversies connected with it.

By intuition we know what emotional intelligence is. We know people who are characterized by an exceptional ability of empathy. We also encounter cases of “emotional thoughtlessness” - when someone hurts others groundlessly, starts absurd arguments. However, the problem appears - as Gerald Matthews points out - when we try to step outside the aforementioned intuitions and measure EQ, i.e. “catch it red-handed”.

The issue of emotional intelligence is a relatively new field of psychological research. We speak about it with reference to the ability of recognizing and understanding emotions, managing and directing them. People with high EQ have the insight into their own emotional states, can name them, control them and use them effectively in the areas of personal, social and occupational functioning. Moreover, EQ entails the ability of understanding emotional reactions in other people, capability of identifying those emotions and reacting to them emphatically. The scientists holding research on this subject prefigure that people with high EQ succeed more often at work and in their personal lives. Nowadays, there exist three major models of EQ: Jack Meyer’s and Peter Salovey’s, Daniel Goleman’s as well as Reuven Bar-Ona’s.

In D. Goleman’s apprehension, EQ involves the ability to understand oneself and one’s emotions, direct and control those emotions, the ability of individual motivation, empathy, and social skills. The author sets it in the categories of emotional potential which, if used skillfully, billows into particular emotional competencies and abilities associated with competent emotions management. According to this approach an emotionally intelligent person not only can recognize and name intra- and interpersonal emotional states, but above all is aware of how to use this extremely precious knowledge in everyday life.

J. Meyer and P. Salovey defined EQ as the ability of reasoning concerning emotions and information of emotional character as well as the capability of using emotions to expedite thinking. W serii zaprojektowanych przez siebie eksperymentów z użyciem autorskiego narzędzia autorzy podjęli próbę odpowiedzi na pytanie, czy konstrukt EQ rzeczywiście istnieje. In a series of self-designed experiments using an authorial tool the authors made an attempt to find out whether the EQ construct really exists. In the means developed by the authors to measure emotional intelligence the participants were asked to recognize emotions observable on people’s faces depicted in photographs. In the following stages they were asked questions concerning situationally determined emotional reactions in humans, so they were asked to imagine that “George was sad, and an hour later he felt guilty. What happened in the meantime?/ Choose one on the two answers:

  • George helped his neighbor by accompanying him at the doctor’s,
  • George had no energy to call his mother and did not give her birthday wishes

People with high EQ chose option b). In their opinion the description of the situation shown in this version explained better the change of George’s temper from sorrow into guilt. Moreover, the study revealed that the ability to give appropriate answers improved with age. The answers given to different questions turned out to be coherent, it means the people who successfully passed the quiz stage proved just as successful in other tasks. The results of this experiment and the following research prove, according to the authors, that emotional intelligence really exists. J. Meyer and P. Salovey point out that it is often considered what it is not, e.g. repeatedly it is said to boil down to personal features. Kolejnym nieporozumieniem, związanym z interpretacją  pojęcia, jest w ocenie autorów modelu przekonanie, że - jak sugerowała okładka „Time” - inteligencja emocjonalna jest gwarancją sukcesu życiowego. In the authors’ perspective, the next misunderstanding connected with the term’s interpretation is the belief that - as the “Time’s” cover suggested - emotional intelligence is the guarantee of success. Does it mean that EQ is of no importance?

According to J. Meyer: “it absolutely in not (...), EQ broadens our understanding of intelligence, helps to foresee the key life achievements, can be helpful in such areas as job search or establishing interpersonal relationships. Wysoka EQ sama w sobie nie gwarantuje jednak, że osoba odznaczająca się nią potrafi wykorzystywać umiejętności emocjonalne w życiu osobistym, zawodowym czy społecznym. However, high EQ itself does not yet guarantee that its owner can use emotional abilities in personal, occupational and social life. It means only this: this person has very good potential prospects of learning these abilities. For one can have a considerable ability of empathy, but not have the acquired, learned skills which translate into e.g. professional customer service or being a valued lecturer.

Adequate recognition of an emotional state and the reaction to it, both treated as a signal, relates to the knowledge about ourselves. It is hard to imagine how our functioning would look like without the contribution of emotions in our lives. If I do not feel emotions, I lose the direction of action. I cannot recognize danger because I do not know whether I am scared.

In 1993 John Carroll developed a three-stratum intelligence model basing on a comprehensive analysis of cognitive abilities. On the top of Carroll’s model there was the general intelligence (g). The second layer involved eight categories of abilities – fluid intelligence (spatial and logical reasoning), crystallized (knowledge acquired by a person and the ability of accessing it), as well as six other areas, among others: general memory, broad cognitive speediness, broad visual perception, broad auditory perception. J. Carroll assumed that general intelligence bases on many secondary intelligences. J. Meyer uzupełnił poziom drugiej warstwy modelu J. Carrolla o tzw. hot intelligences, do których zaliczył m.in. inteligencję emocjonalną, społeczną i praktyczną. J. Meyer complemented the second layer of J. Carroll’s model by adding so called hot intelligences, among others emotional, social and practical intelligence.

Those dimensions not only complement the mechanism of information processing in humans, but also let foresee how different people will cope in their lives. The overview of the last data suggests that EQ lets anticipate functioning in the social realm. People with higher EQ establish more satisfactory relationships with friends and prove to have more effective contacts at work. So is it possible to increase the individual level of emotional intelligence?

Contemporary researchers suggest that it is possible with reference to certain skills from the EQ scope. For example, one can practice emotions’ identification, one of EQ’s components - for this purpose Paul Ekman created a computer program (presenting microexpressions of emotions). Similar programs were created also in the area of education and they aim at shaping skills from the area of EQ (social skills, self-confidence, avoidance on unwanted behaviors training).

Warto zatem sprawdzić jaką mamy EQ oraz uświadomić sobie złożony i niejednoznaczny charakter zależności między bodźcem, myślami, emocjami a sytuacją. So the level of our EQ and the equivocality of the relation between the stimulus, thoughts, emotions and the situation are both worth checking. We also have to take in the price that we pay for attachment to the up-to-now way of thinking and emotional reacting. The key is therefore defining emotional intelligence and focusing on the actual abilities - for the better we perform in the social reality, the greater the probability of achieving life successes.

So it is worth to invest individual effort in the development of the constitutive competencies of EQ by acting in accordance with three key rules of emotions management:

  • Be aware of the emotions that you feel - shape the ability of noticing your own emotional state - the sooner you realize that an emotion has appeared, the easier it will be to control
  • Get to know your emotions - train clear understanding of your emotional states and naming them - every time aim at answering four basic questions: Where did it come from?/ When and where did it start?/ What does it proceed and what is its intensity?/ When and how will it end - how long does it last?
  • Rozpoznawaj emocje innych ludzi i sytuacje, które je generują – trenuj umiejętność dekodowania wyrazów twarzy, pojawiających się w określonych stanach emocjonalnych i staraj się zrozumieć sytuacje, które je wyzwalają. Recognize other people’s emotions and the situations that generate them - train yourself in decoding facial expressions appearing in different emotional states and make effort to understand the situations triggering them.
  • Take control over emotions - influence knowingly your emotional constitution, regulate it.

Use the aforementioned tools regularly and you get a chance to act effectively in interpersonal relationships. Emotions management requires work, but the effects can be amazing. Below there is a short quiz - summarizing – to measure the individual emotional strength:


Read the following statements and answer quickly, without reflection!

Mark the right answer by circling the appropriate word on the scale:

never     seldom     sometimes     often     always


1. Being pushed away and ignored upsets me.                                                                                                          never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

2. When I do something that I am embarrassed for, I can admit it.                                                                           never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

3. I am sorry when a stranger is unfriendly to me.                                                                                                       never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

4. I can laugh at my weaknesses.                                                                                                                                  never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

5. I get nervous when I make mistakes.                                                                                                                        never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

6. I realize my own imperfections without quiltiness.                                                                                                 never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

7. Every time someone annoys me, I have a bad day.                                                                                              never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

8. Every day I experience the whole range of emotions involving sorrow, anger and fear.                               never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

9. Intense emotions make me lose control over myself.                                                                                           never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

10. Making decisions is difficult for me.                                                                                                                        never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

 11. Intense emotions in other people make me lose control over myself.                                                            never     seldom     sometimes     often     always

People with high EQ will answer „often/always” to questions: 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and „never/seldom” to questions: 1, 5, 7, 9, 11. If your results are a bit different, you have just identified the areas that require correction and some work on yourself.

Author: Katarzyna Więcek-Jakubek

Translation: Monika Skrobol


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