In 1990, a modern day movement was born through a singular
notion called “emotional intelligence”, which was coined by psychologists
Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in a paper they co-wrote.
The article describes the
potential rewards and hazards when controlling one’s emotions in personal and
professional settings. The abstract of the article began with the following:
This article presents a framework for emotional
intelligence, a set of skills hypothesized to contribute to the accurate
appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effective
regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate,
plan, and achieve in one’s life.
In the article itself, Salovey,
who is currently the President of Yale University, and Mayer, a psychologist at
the University of New Hampshire, go deep into the nature of emotional
intelligence, writing that they believed that the regulation of emotion, or
having “emotional intelligence”, might lead one to adapt and
reinforce better mood behaviors. Those reinforced mood behaviors could positively
enhance an individual’s state of mind and the attitude of everyone around them,
which could motivate others to mutually rewarding results.
On the other hand, they
also believed that sociopaths could expertly use the regulation of their
emotions in a negative way to manipulate others to diabolical ends.
The article begins with
the rhetorical question, “Is emotional intelligence a contradiction in
Salovey and Mayer explain
the question by citing the views of Western thought that abides by the idea
that emotions are a “disorganized interruption of mental activity.”
The pair of psychologists proceeds to define “emotional intelligence”
as a subset of “social intelligence” that involves the ability of a
person to monitor their feelings and emotions as well as the feelings and
emotions of all the people around them.
Through this process of
monitoring their feelings, the person with emotional intelligence can
discriminate between them, and use them to guide their behavior, thinking, and
ultimate actions in a way that serves them well. The alternative would be to
release emotions without any consideration to how they will influence our mood
and the mood of the people around us.
People from varying
fields of psychology and business define emotional intelligence in numerous
ways—some say, in too many ways—as they praise its capacity to take humanity to
a higher level. While other people question its relevance, and whether it is
good or bad to actively work on one’s emotional intelligence in a systematic
Regardless of whether
emotional intelligence takes people to new heights both personally and
professionally, or it is irrelevant to overall human satisfaction, we all must
properly analyze its defining characteristics to determine if it has value as
one of many tools that we might pull from the toolbox to get us through the
world in a more efficient manner.