EQ Myth #3: EQ is about emotions

It is generally agreed that Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer published the first two journal articles using the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1990.  They described 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 then initiated a research program intended to develop valid measures of emotional intelligence and to explore its significance. Salovey and Mayer then proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability to reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions.  In 1997 Salovey and Mayer argued that the four branches of their model are, “arranged from more basic psychological processes to higher, more psychologically integrated processes. For example, the lowest level branch concerns the (relatively) simple abilities of perceiving and expressing emotion. In contrast, the highest level branch concerns the conscious, reflective regulation of emotion”

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.

In 1995 Goleman published “Emotional Intelligence” which sold 5 million copies in the first 5 years.  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)

Now we know what EQ is and why it is important, the question is then how do we lift our EQ?  Are there core emotions?  Paul Ekman is probably the leading researcher in this area and recently released the Atlas of Emotions.  He argues there are five core emotions, anger, disgust, enjoyment, fear and sadness.  Each core emotion contains a number of multiple states which differ in intensity.  Also an emotion can morph into a mood where the emotion is felt more frequently and intensely: irritable, sour, elation, apprehensive and dysphoria (feeling blue).

Goleman also listed a hierarchy of emotional intensities.  He defines an emotion as a feeling and its distinctive thoughts, psychological and biological states, and propensity to act such as when we become angry.  He then goes on to define a mood, which, while more muted, lasts longer than an emotion, and he compares the emotion anger with a grumpy mood.  Beyond moods he then defines temperament, as the readiness to evoke a given emotion or mood, such as someone with a choleric temperament.  Finally he notes there are the outright disorders of emotion which can lead to insanity, such as someone with paranoid schizophrenia.



Level of Emotional Intensity Population Penetration & Frequency
Emotion All of the people all of the time
Mood Most of the people some of the time
Temperament 30% of people most of the time
Disorder 1% of people all of the time


I consider this hierarchy of emotional intensity particularly useful when trying to lift your emotional intelligence.  The secret is not to look at emotions morphing into moods. Instead work in the reverse direction.  Begin with the basic mental disorders and uses them to develop a theory of temperament.  Your core emotions are driven by your temperament – what you are genetically born with.  Based on a study of 11,000 identical twins nature is around twice as important as nurture.  I have found the 7MTF/Humm-Wadsworth model of seven core emotions the most practical tool for people to use and once understood (takes a day) dramatically lifts their emotional intelligence.  If you want to learn about the Humm download a free white paper on using Emotional Intelligence in either selling or management.


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Chris Golis - Author


"Put in a sales perspective, I loved your presentation! I got a lot from what you talked about and I will read your book."

Peter Morris, Executive Officer, Lomax Financial Group

Your presentation on 'Lifting your Level of Emotional Intelligence" to 10 CEOs scored an average 8.9 out of 10 for the topic and 8.5 for the presentation which is great. A couple of the attendees gave you a 10 out of 10, and the comments were:

- Great presentation. Very informative.

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- made me think.

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