Mr. Personality

A personality expert talks character and destiny.

Time to Re-think EQ?

Stop the press: High EQ is not always good. Low EQ is not always bad. Read More


Article makes a good point.
There are dozens, hundreds? of different types of intelligence each to be understood with their respective shades of nuances.

Also since every human characteristic has a both a positive and a negative side, to make any type of intelligence positive is not helpful.

Not sure why we have such a black and white, literal base cultures in most of the world.

One aspect of wisdom is that it is very comfortable with paradox. Having something both good and bad at the same time is not a problem, we just have to grow up.


I feel relieved that you posted this. Ever since Goleman's book came out, EQ has been uncritically accepted by too many people, especially about unintended consequences of implementing his ideas.

Exactly right, high EQ has become synonymous with high "adjustment" and low emotional sensitivity-- which pits EQ against not only creativity, but enthusiasm, emotional energy, even empathy itself. Because all of those are emotionally "sensitive" states, and when high emotional sensitivity is presented as equal to low EQ, then...

And so, taken a few steps further it becomes a way to deem anyone who disagrees with the dominant culture as emotionally deficient. And so obedience becomes a mark of intelligence, and going along with peer pressure (which once upon a time we were all taught was a bad thing) becomes a mark of good social instincts.

Which is a dangerous development for our democracy, or any democratic society. Looking at the workplace alone and its growing fondness for psychometrics. Of course most workplaces are going to prefer high-EQ employees of conventional personality-- that's what hiring for fit is all about. How much of the unemployment rate can we owe to EQ creeping into hiring practices? How many people's lives were limited because everything else they brought to the table was thrown away because they failed a personality test? When we are worried that being yourself is going to make you unemployable, when there is a clear preference to be a certain personality to make a living, then we are NOT living in a free society.

One thing for sure, using EQ this way has NOT improved our ability to spot sociopaths and Machiavellians-- in fact, any of them are high enough in "adjustment" that they slipped past, or were even celebrated and held up as examples. Remember the rate of psychopathy in executives is 4 or 5 times greater than that in the general population. Remember that the Great Recession was caused by a bunch of young, confident men and women who were perfect fits in their workplace cultures.

Many highly emotional people are emotionally competent-- ask any great actor, writer, or artist. Ask any leader who strives to be more inspirational-- it's a lot more difficult to do that without emotional sensitivity. Emotional competence should not be only/primarily about keeping a lid on your emotions, or prioritizing positive thinking over clear thinking, or getting the truth.
Why should calm be so attractive to other people anyway? If it's all about instinctively signaling to those around you that you're a safe and trustworthy person... than maybe there are alternate ways of doing that; for those with less calm, more excitable temperaments. Maybe there are alternate ways of proving yourself a level-headed person, even if you happen to be highly emotional.

It takes all kinds to make a world, and to make America in particular. We're doing a good job at overcoming racial, religious, and gender discrimination. Let's not replace that with emotional makeup discrimination. It can only limit all our human potentials.

" *many of them were high

" *many of them were high enough in adjustment"


Lucy: this is a wonderful comment and I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts. You have expressed some of my core intentions better than I did In my own blog... thank you!


I like the article and think it is funny how the author sounds a little annoyed/ticked off!

I am a little/a lot neurotic so of course I liked him coming to our defense! There must be benefits to all kinds of traits. Like the different colors of a rainbow

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Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Ph.D., is a Professor of Business Psychology at UCL and NYU. He studies online dating, entrepreneurship, and consumer preferences. more...

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