What is Emotional Intelligence?

The use of the term “Emotional Intelligence” has gained much popularity over the past decade. But as its use as a common descriptor has increased in favor, so have the number of ways in which it is used in everyday culture. In his article, What is Emotional Intelligence?, John D. Mayer deconstructs the concept of Emotional Intelligence and discusses it as concept and outcome. Among the topics in this comprehensive treatise, he describes the four-branch model of emotional intelligence that involves:

  • Accurately perceiving emotions in oneself and others
  • Using emotions to facilitate thinking
  • Understanding emotional meanings, and
  • Managing emotions

He questions how we determine who is emotionally intelligent and if it really matters. Mayor indicates that the term denotes the idea that a person is more effective socially.  The higher the emotional intelligence, the better the social relations. Overall, an emotionally intelligent person is better at perceiving, using, and understanding their emotions. They tend to be more open and agreeable than others and tend to be drawn to occupations that involve social interactions such as teaching and counseling.

Furthermore, he describes how emotional intelligence can be used to make meaningful and interesting predictions to a person’s life outcomes but examines how it has been misused in popular culture as somehow the best predictor of success in life.

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