Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is generally said to include a few skills: namely emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.

The Roots of Emotional Intelligence


The theory of emotional intelligence was introduced by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in the 1990s, and further developed and brought to the lay public by Daniel Goleman. The concept, also known as emotional quotient or EQ, has gained wide acceptance. However, some psychologists argue that because EQ cannot be captured via psychometric tests (as can, for example, general intelligence), it lacks true explanatory power.

How self-aware is an emotionally intelligent person?

The emotionally intelligent are highly conscious of their own emotional states, even negative ones—from frustration or sadness to something more subtle. They are able to identify and understand what they are feeling, and being able to name an emotion helps manage that emotion. Because of this, the emotionally intelligent have high self-confidence and are realistic about themselves.

Do the emotionally intelligent have a better handle on self-regulation?

A person high in EQ is not impulsive or hasty with their actions. They think before they do. This translates into steady emotion regulation, or the ability to reduce how intense an emotion feels. Taking anger or anxiety down a notch is called down-regulation. The emotionally intelligent are able to shift gears and lighten mood, both internally and externally.

article continues after advertisement

How to Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

Art of Sun Shutterstock

We are naturally drawn to a person with high EQ. We are comfortable and at ease with their easy rapport. It feels as though they can read social cues with superhuman ability. Perhaps they can even mind-read how other people feel to some extent. This effortlessness is welcome in all domains of life—at home, in social settings, and at work. Who wouldn’t want a boss who understood how you are feeling and what you are trying to accomplish?

Can you test for emotional intelligence in the workplace?

In recent years, some employers have incorporated emotional intelligence tests into their application and interview processes, on the theory that someone high in emotional intelligence would make a better leader or coworker. However, it is not clear if these measures are accurate or even useful.

Can emotional intelligence be measured?

Testing for EQ in the workplace, for example, is difficult because there is no validated psychometric test or scale for emotional intelligence as there is for the general intelligence factor—and many argue that emotional intelligence is therefore not an actual construct, but a way of describing interpersonal skills.

Essential Reads

Recent Posts