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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 01/04/2007 | 3 Comments

I haven’t been blogging much recently as I’m too busy writing other material. The Centre is planning to publish a book I’m writing called the Confidence Handbook, mainly aimed at teachers. It should be out by the end of August. As part of my research I’ve been looking at Emotional Intelligence. I read Daniel Goleman’s book when it first appeared in 1995. I had a passing interest in it and not much more and I’ve never been overly impressed. It never featured in any of the work I did as a trainer. I’ve now discovered that Goleman’s book has attracted a huge amount of criticism from psychologists. Why?

First, the term and some of the book is considered an intellectual rip-off from earlier work by two psychologists Mayer and Salovey who had first coined the term. Goleman does not adequately credit their work in his own book. More importantly, Mayer and Salovey restrict the term to emotional ability. In their work, it is about being able to recognise, for example, different emotions in facial expressions. This means that emotional intelligence is not just about subjective feelings but about right and wrong answers. In other words it is a measurable intelligence similar to IQ. But Goleman adds on to this just about every other positive characteristic he can think of – optimism, self-control, persistence, empathy. At one point he equates emotional intelligence with Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow (losing oneself in a challenging activity). At another point he says that emotional intelligence is essentially about ‘good character’. This is not to say that these characteristics are not important it is just, as Mayer and Salovey point out, they can’t be put in a package and labelled ‘emotional intelligence’. They argue that this mixed bag of characteristics not only don’t fit together but that they might even be add odds with one another. Consider this example: computer nerds find it very easy to get into flow. They lose themselves in computer programming, or games or the internet. Are they empathetic people? Do they have good character? Of course we cannot assume this as these characteristics are completely different from the capacity to experience flow.

Finally, Goleman makes huge, unsubstantiated claims for EQ. IN his book he says that IQ only accounts for about 20% of success in life. The implication is that EQ accounts for the remaining 80%. A number of his followers expressly make this claim. But psychologists say this is nonsense. No personality trait or characteristic has ever been shown to be that important in the whole history of psychology.

This is not to say that something called emotional intelligence does not exist. It is just that we must be careful to define the term and not to claim that it is the psychological equivalent of sliced bread.
Comment By Comment
Oliver Harding

Comment Posted: 04/04/2007 13:55
I find emotional intelligence quite a useful concept. I would recommend Seven Steps to Emotional Intelligence by Merlevede, et al which seems to draw on well-established and evidence-based psychological theories. In particular the 7 levels: environment, behaviour, skills, beliefs and values, identity, connectedness, spiritutality - provide a framework which can be applied to almost any issue of health and wellbeing.
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Clark Sorley
Joined: 20/01/2007

Comment Posted: 07/04/2007 14:06
The philosopher John MacMurray never talked of emotional intelligence but his work is redolent of it. He used the term 'chastity', meaning emotional sincerity i.e. having a genuine understanding of feelings - one's own as well as those of others. For him such an understanding is the essence of good relationship.

MacMurray suggested there was a hierarchy of the emotions. Some were truer than others, some more real and more valid than others. From this a system of right and wrong could be inferred creating a virtual morality based on this specific sense of chastity.

It is hard to think of any human context that would not be improved were a sincere respect employed for how actions impact on feelings. This imperative has for long enough been the kernel of the world religions but unfortunately few as yet have been able to live by it.

I think John MacMurray's arguments come as close as any to defining an absolute morality. Were this to be achieved the effect on human congress would be transformative. Maybe better than sliced bread actually. Something of a holy grail no less.
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Joined: 19/10/2007

Comment Posted: 21/11/2007 21:37

Lately we were discussing the issue "what is the diffence between us" at the university with the students. When I was at their age, I was discussing who is valuable, who is superior, who is inferior.....I was in my twenties.....the professor I was discussing this topic with said to me that "when we pass away the worms under the soil are going to eat all of us....they are not going to say this individual is valuable or rich or this and that and I should not eat them." I have students from Africa, China, Europe.....What is the diffence between a black and a white or a chineese. When we are created, the Lord is creating us with love. We are so valuable for him. I think we are forgetting this fact and we are trying to categorize each other......titles....money, fame are means for us to forget the fact that we are all valuable, we are all lovable, we all deserve respect and happiness......we are here for an evolution.....for maturation.......for giving a hand.......for thinking, for producing, for constructing not destructing actually. But life is so full, we all need to rush......we have no time for our inner voice........inner voices are so human, so humble, so giving......I met some people, they were not comfortable with the softness in themselves......I have got various characteristics, I have got love, anger, pain, acceptance, rejection, humiliation, narrow-mindedness, broad-mindedness......all of them are me......and I should be proud of myself ........this acceptance will lead to maturation and development and change......I should ask myself: "when I do this or say this, do I feel comfortable?".......my uniqueness as we all are.......will add something to humanity....I am not perfect.....I need to learn many things from many events and many people........

As Virginia Satir says , "I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know -- but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me. However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I am me, and I am Okay."

Leyla Fetihi
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