Review of the Oporto EQ Conference 19-22 July 2017

Twelve months ago my wife and I spent a very enjoyable four days in Oporto with her sister and brother-in-law. When I saw that the Sixth Biannual Congress on Emotional Intelligence, ICES 2017, was to be held in Oporto I resolved to attend. Somehow, I managed to get an abstract approved for a paper presentation so off I went to the conference as part of a month long visit to Europe.

I attended for three days. The first day was a preconference workshop run by the President of ICES, John Pellitteri. Besides wearing what was an amazing tie clearly demonstrating that he was Socialiser-Artist ( the day was a good academic review of the state of EQ. This would be probably the fourth introduction to EQ workshop that I have attended and it was easily the best. I would summarise the day as follows:

  1. While he did reference Goleman and Barwon, the clear favourite Emotional Intelligence model of the academics is Salovey-Meyer.
  2. The Mood Meter which is simple 2×2 quadrant using two axis: high & low energy and pleasant-unpleasantness resulting in four coloured quadrants yellow, green, red and blue is very popular. (See
  3. We spend the usual hour on looking at facial expressions. Thankfully we did not spend time on micro-expressions.
  4. We spend a lot of time on emotional literacy. After spending some time on Plutchik’s 8 factor model we spent even more time coming up with ten words to further graduate the differences among, for example, serenity-joy-ectasy,

The next day the conference started. There were 270 attendees from 44 countries. While English was the conference language naturally there was a strong Iberian flavour of Portuguese and Spanish. I met the conference organiser, Luisa Faria, the previous day looking very harried but by the end of the conference she was looking totally relieved.

This was my first international academic conference. Very quickly I realised the power hierarchy:

  1. Keynote speakers at the top.
  2. Symposia speakers.
  3. Paper presenters (given 15 minutes each)
  4. Poster presenters (given a poster hanging on a wall for an hour)
  5. The rest of the attendees.

The first presenter was Marc Brackett who is the Director of the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence. He is a wonderful example of the Doublechecker in action. My favourite line in his talk was “I worry that I worry that I worry too much.”. One big message was that he had done extensive surveys of schoolchildren, first year university students, and teachers and all three groups said they suffered from Stress, Fatigue and Boredom. (I must confess I was reminded of Warren Buffett’s great observation that if you were born white and in Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand or the United States that you had won the lottery of life.) He also said that what students really hope to feel is not happiness, excitement or motivation but “being loved”. Again I cast my mind back to when I was student at Cambridge. I admit as a red blooded teenage male I was looking for female companionship but must confess the motivation was not “love”.

Marc also spent a considerable time on the Mood Meter, which is not surprising as he and Robin Stern were the inventors. There is an app for the Mood Meter and it claims to help you RULER your emotions. The RULER skills are: Recognizing, Understanding, Labelling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions. According to Marc an individual goes through hundreds of positions on the Mood Meter every day. While I can see the value for an individual trying understand his or her emotional state and getting advice on how to move to another quadrant, I still do not see how you would you use when dealing with other parties for example in a sales or negotiating situation.

We then had a first Symposia which set the scene for the vast majority of papers (and posters) presented at the conference. Nearly every presentation started with a five to ten minutes introduction on the Salovey-Meyer model, followed by why the author had chosen a test group and what set of EQ instruments had been chosen, followed by a number dense slides of the calculations of factor analysis showing what factors were statistically significant, followed by a plea for more research funding.

I presented my paper (The 7MTF: A Practical Tool to Lift Your Emotional Intelligence) at the Friday afternoon session. The conference does not appear to publish papers so you can download it here. You can watch a webinar of my presentation here.

I think I was the only presenter who used the Goleman 2×2 matrix definition of Emotional Intelligence which I consider of far more practical use than the Salovey-Mayer model, namely Understanding & Influencing Oneself and Others.

Secondly after three full-on days I still did not get practical answers to the two questions I posed at the beginning of my paper:

1)    Why do people do what they do?

2)    How can I influence them to behave differently?

Finally, John Pittilleri developed a psychophysiological model of emotional construction comprising physiological, cognitive, social and behavioural systems. Even after listening to the model, I still believe that the role of temperament in developing useful practical tools to lift your emotional intelligence is grossly underutilised.

On the other hand, I did meet a number of interesting people. The support staff at the conference were very helpful. And if you ever go to Porto stay at the Pestana Old Vintage hotel on the river Duoro. It is a great hotel in a great city.


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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.

- Excellent presentation.

- made me think.

Christi Spring CEO Institute. - web