A Brief History of Emotional Intelligence
Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1990 describing it as “a form 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 action”.
Salovey and Mayer also initiated a research program intended to develop valid measures of emotional intelligence and to explore its significance. For instance, they found in one study that when a group of people saw an upsetting film, those who scored high on emotional clarity (which is the ability to identify and give a name to a mood that is being experienced) recovered more quickly. In another study, individuals who scored higher in the ability to perceive accurately, understand, and appraise others’ emotions were better able to respond flexibly to changes in their social environments and build supportive social networks.
Daniel Goleman and Emotional Intelligence
In the 1990’s Daniel Goleman became aware of Salovey and Mayer’s work, and this eventually led to his book, Emotional Intelligence. Goleman was a science writer for the New York Times, specialising in brain and behaviour research. He trained as a psychologist at Harvard where he worked with David McClelland, among others. McClelland was among a growing group of researchers who were becoming concerned with how little traditional tests of cognitive intelligence told us about what it takes to be successful in life.
Goleman argued that it was not cognitive intelligence that guaranteed business success but emotional intelligence. He described emotionally intelligent people as those with four characteristics:
- They were good at understanding their own emotions (self-awareness)
- They were good at managing their emotions (self-management)
- They were empathetic to the emotional drives of other people (social awareness)
- They were good at handling other people’s emotions (social skills)