Are we being dumb about emotional intelligence? Page 1 of 3
Published on Prevention Action (http://preventionaction.org)
Are we being dumb about emotional
Last week on the Newsweek website, science bloggers Po Bronson and Ashley
Merryman invited Daniel Goleman, co-chairman of the Consortium for Research on
Emotional Intelligence at Rutgers University, to respond to several skeptical articles
the pair had posted on social and emotional learning.
The Newsweek bloggers recently published Nurtureshock which questions accepted
wisdom about how to be a parent, and they are suspicious of the claims that have
been made for emotional intelligence – particularly its contribution to success later
“Measurable emotional intelligence isn’t predictive of all the positive life outcomes
that have been promised,” they wrote, maintaining that, for all its flaws, the SAT
exam used to test college readiness in the US was still the best predictor of
achievement in higher education and later in life.
Goleman conceded that there had been confusion over the contribution of emotional
intelligence to life success. Much had been made of the erroneous notion,
sometimes attributed to him, that emotional intelligence accounted for 80% of
achievement in the workplace, he said.
He had actually written that IQ only accounted for 20%. The other 80% was
explained by many other factors – sheer luck as well as emotional intelligence.
Nevertheless, when assessing the success of a group of people who exceeded a
certain level of intelligence, qualities such as emotional intelligence became far
Goleman insisted that huge advances had been made in the field since the
publication of his Emotional Intelligence in 1996. Dozens of scales had been
designed to measure the concept and there was more evidence to show how much it
The authors of Nurtureshock questioned whether emotional intelligence should be
considered “intelligence” at all, arguing that it was just a fancy name for social
skills. They pointed to research studies that demonstrated a very low or non-existent
correlation between emotional intelligence and IQ.