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LostInParadise's avatar

Does the term emotional intelligence make sense?

Asked by LostInParadise (26116points) 1 week ago

Certain events in our lives trigger an emotional response. There is no intelligence involved. How we handle the emotions is something else, but even here intelligence may not be the correct term. We may know what the correct response is but not be able to overcome our initial reaction.

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24 Answers

nerdgirl578's avatar

The term intelligence is fairly vague though, how would you define it?

LostInParadise's avatar

I assume intelligence involves reasoning. Perhaps emotional intelligence could be taken to mean reasoning about emotions I still don’t like the term, because it makes it seem as if the intelligence lies within the emotions.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Emotions can be adjusted by intellect.
For instance, a girl in her teens might be thoroughly smitten by a smooth talker, and later repulsed once she has seen he is all talk with a dark heart.

nerdgirl578's avatar

@LostInParadise Well, I agree about the reasoning. And in that case I think emotional intelligence make perfect sense. Also I think we’re slaves to our emotions more than we care to admit… People always try to rationalize it though.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I wouldn’t use the term “emotional intelligence”. Maturity seems to be the right term.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I don’t care much for the term “emotional intelligence”. During my early adulthood, you were considered either normal or an “emotional cripple”. People who were intelligent were capable of controlling their emotions; therefore, “emotional intelligence” doesn’t compute in my thought process!!!

kritiper's avatar

Sounds like a oxymoron.

Zaku's avatar

The choice of the word “intelligence” bothers me a little, but I don’t know of a better term for the degree to which a person is aware of their own emotional material and is capable of choosing well how to behave and relate to their emotions, and to process and heal them.

Here is another explanation of the term.

Would someone care to suggest a more accurate term for that?

“Maturity”, both the play definition and the psychological one refer to quite different things.

@LadyMarissa That’s not what is meant by “emotional intelligence”, but I can see how that context would make the choice of words unsavory to someone used to shaming term “emotional cripple”!

@LostInParadise That’s also not what “emotional intelligence” refers to.

Clearly, part of the issue is that the term is confusing and/or many people haven’t had it thoroughly explained to them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am with @elbanditoroso. The first thing I always think of when I hear the term is simple maturity. But to me it’s a waste of space to use “emotional intelligence” when you mean “maturity.”

gorillapaws's avatar

It is my understanding that @LostInParadise has this right. It’s not about being a master of your own emotions, but rather, having intelligent analysis of other people’s emotions. For example, a councilor or therapist would be expected to have high emotional intelligence. Good managers should be able to empathize with the feelings of their team to help lead them to success.

For example, an employee, who is well-compensated, expresses frustration with his compensation. An emotionally intelligent manager might understand that what’s really happening is that his wife has an incredibly successful career and is belittling the employee for earning less than her. Ways to address this (without bankrupting your company) might include finding ways to empower the employee to have more autonomy in his day, or to help invest in improving/developing his skills.

janbb's avatar

We all know nerdy geeks who are brilliant but are clueless about their own or others’ emotions. Researchers have for some time started to distinguish between high IQ or problem solving ability and other types of competency. Emotional intelligence is one form of perhaps nine types of competency. It means the ability to assess levels of feeling in others as well as oneself and is an important skill to have.

I feel sorry for those on this thread who quipped that emotional intelligence is an oxymoron.

Zaku's avatar

@Dutchess_III But that’s not what “emotional intelligence” means. See my answer above.

@gorillapaws It’s both about understanding and being able to respond in healthy ways to one’s own emotions, and about perceiving and responding well to others’ emotions.

(Thinking of trying to be a “master” of one’s own emotions implies to me someone who has a not-so-healthy relationship to one’s own emotions.)

LostInParadise's avatar

I have seen the term social intelligence used, but at face value social intelligence seems to mean the collective intelligence of a society, where what we want to mean is understanding of oneself and of other individuals.

janbb's avatar


JLeslie's avatar

I thought the term emotional intelligence (EI) was very odd when I first heard it. I do think the parameters of EI are very important, which I believe are being able to read other people’s emotions, being self aware, and being empathetic. These skills help us when interacting within relationships and in society at large. The OP spoke only of emotional reactions, but EI the way I understand it is more complex than that.

I’m not sure who created the term and why they put the word intelligence in it. It always seemed like it was there so if your IQ wasn’t very high you could maybe have a different type of intelligence to feel good about. Not that there is anything wrong with average IQ, it’s been shown over and over again that there are other elements to success, and that high IQ on its own isn’t worth much. Another initial thought I had for the term was that the very brilliant people who maybe lack EI shouldn’t feel so superior, because they don’t do well in other firms of intelligence. Not that every person who is high IQ lacks EI, but maybe that’s the stereotype.

To have high IQ or EI both are dependent on environment, but I think EI is much more dependent on it than IQ, so in my opinion they differ in that way. Although, there are extremes in EI that people can be born with, and the brain is so hard wired that way that it is difficult or impossible to overcome.

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Zaku's avatar

@JLeslie The link I posted above (that no one seems to have read, along with the rest of my posts) covers the origins of the term, and what it means.

JLeslie's avatar

@Zaku I’m not sure why you are pointing it out to me, I think I basically understood EI correctly. My father would be average or even low on the EI scale. I’m unfortunately fairly familiar with what it is like to be around a person who is bad at reading emotions. I wouldn’t say he isn’t a sympathetic person, but he falls short in understand emotion the way most people feel it, and can’t read subtle cues.

When I was a teen it felt like I had to be hysterical practically puking from upset for him to understand I really was at my limit and ready to come apart. He still fails at understanding. My sister and I would get to the point to ask him to stop, beg, and by stop I mean stop talking about whatever was upsetting us, and he wouldn’t. He now tells me he doesn’t understand what stop means when we say it. My sister hates him for it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Maybe he knows full well what he was doing and he’s just sadistic.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Not at all. Maybe a little narcissistic, but definitely not sadistic. He doesn’t take any pleasure in hurting people, his intent is not to hurt anyone.

Zaku's avatar

@JLeslie You do seem to get the gist of the term. I pointed that reply to you because your second paragraph in your post above mine was saying you didn’t know who created the term and speculated about why, both of which are covered in the Wiki article I had linked to. It’s trying to create a term to describe a type of human capacity. (It’s not trying to make people with low IQ test results feel better.)

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I realized that I should clarify that I was never so upset I was puking, it was never that bad. The things that he did that upset us were he wanted to talk about business ideas, or discuss some current event, and just things that annoyed us most of the time. Some of it was typical parent stuff like trying to figure out what we were interested in, or tell us to consider option about a situation before we did something hasty.

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