Quotes About Emotional Intelligence

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What do researchers and psychologists have to say about emotional intelligence? Psychologists have proposed a variety of definitions, discussed the potential benefits, and offered critical analysis of differing theoretical models. The following quotes are just a sampling of what has been written on the topic of emotional intelligence. If you're curious about your emotional intelligence quotient, or EQ, this quiz will tell you more.

Defining Emotional Intelligence

David Caruso: “It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head—it is the unique intersection of both.” From “Emotional WHAT? Definitions and History of EQ" in EQ Today, 2002

Joshua Freedman, Anabel Jensen, Patricia Freedman, & Marsha Rideout: "Emotional Intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80% of the "success" in our lives." From Handle With Care: The Emotional Intelligence Activity Book, 1998

Peter Salovey & John D. Mayer: “We define emotional intelligence as the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions.” From “Emotional Intelligence", 1990

John D. Mayer & Casey Cobb: “The ability to process emotional information, particularly as it involves the perception, assimilation, understanding, and management of emotion." From "Educational policy on emotional intelligence: Does it make sense?", 2000

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

John Gottman: "In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships." From Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, 1998

Susan McCown, Joshua Freedman, Anabel Jenson, & Marsha Rideout: "Experiencing one's self in a conscious manner—that is, gaining self-knowledge—is an integral part of learning." From Self-Science: The Emotional Intelligence Curriculum, 1998

Peter Salovey, John Mayer, Susan Goldman, Carolyn Turvey, & Tibor Palfai: "People in good moods are better at inductive reasoning and creative problem solving." From Emotion, Disclosure, and Health, 1995

John D. Mayer: "An emotion occurs when there are certain biological, certain experiential, and certain cognitive states which all occur simultaneously." From "What Are Emotions?" in EQ Today, 2000

John D. Mayer & Peter Salovey: "People high in emotional intelligence are expected to progress more quickly through the abilities designated and to master more of them." From Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications, 1997

Criticisms of Emotional Intelligence Research

Hans Eysenck on Daniel Goleman’s work: "[he] exemplifies more clearly than most the fundamental absurdity of the tendency to class almost any type of behaviour as an 'intelligence'…If these five 'abilities' define 'emotional intelligence', we would expect some evidence that they are highly correlated; Goleman admits that they might be quite uncorrelated, and in any case if we cannot measure them, how do we know they are related? So the whole theory is built on quicksand; there is no sound scientific basis." From Intelligence: A New Look, 1998

The Future of Emotional Intelligence

Peter Salovey: “I think in the coming decade we will see well-conducted research demonstrating that emotional skills and competencies predict positive outcomes at home with one’s family, in school, and at work. The real challenge is to show that emotional intelligence matters over-and-above psychological constructs that have been measured for decades like personality and IQ. I believe that emotional intelligence holds this promise." From “Emotional WHAT? Definitions and History of EQ" in EQ Today, 2002

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  • Eysenck H. Intelligence: A New Look. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers; 1998.

  • Freedman J. What are emotions? EQ Today. Published June 25, 2000.

  • Freedman J. Emotional WHAT? Definitions and history of EQ. EQ Today. Updated May 28, 2017.

  • Gottman J. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. New York: Simon and Schuster; 1998.

  • Jensen A, Rideout MC, Freedman JM, & Freedman PE. Handle with Care: The Emotional Intelligence Activity Book. Six Seconds; 1998.

  • Mayer JD, Cobb CD. Educational policy on emotional intelligence: Does it make sense? Educational Psychology Review. 2000;12:163-183. doi:10.1023/A:1009093231445

  • Mayer JD, Salovey P. What is emotional intelligence? In: Salovey P, Sluyter DJ, eds. Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications. New York: Harper Collins; 1997:3-34.

  • McCown KS, Freedman JM, Jensen AL, Rideout MC. Self-Science: The Emotional Intelligence Curriculum. Six Seconds; 1998.

  • Salovey P, Mayer JD, Goldman SL, Turvey C, & Palfai TP. Emotional attention, clarity, and repair: Exploring emotional intelligence using the Trait Meta-Mood Scale. In: Pennebaker JW, ed. Emotion, Disclosure, and Health. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 1995:125-154.

  • Salovey P, Mayer JD. Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and Personality. 1990;9(3):185-211. doi:10.2190/DUGG-P24E-52WK-6CDG