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Emotional Intelligence Vs Cognitive Intelligence Essay


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In a fiercely competitive and changing world, organisational competency has become a crucial tool of survival (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2007). As intelligence testing is regaining popularity, it is increasingly common to fill out personality questionnaires at job interviews. What is IQ, and does it define a person? What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? How do these theories compare with each other, and do they provide adequate appraisal of competency? This essay presents a Cognitive Intelligence (CI) and Emotional Intelligence (EI) overview in modern organisations, the two most prominent cognitive processes in the field of Organisational Behaviour; it evaluates strengths and limitations in theory and practice. Furthermore, this essay offers practical recommendations for modern organisations, including a proposed integrated approach of both theories as a comprehensive model of assessment to help gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of the human mind. Organisational behaviour examines individuals and groups in the work environment (Wood et al., 2013).

The human element exerts profound influence in the workplace (Presser, 2006, as cited in Lockwood, 2006). According to Armstrong, Cools and Sadler-Smith (2012), cognitive development is an essential business tool with interest increasing six folds over the last 40 years. Evidence of ability testing was found as far back as ancient China 2200 BC (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011) but the discipline was not accredited until the late 1940’s (Wood et al., 2013). In spite of its popularity, cognitive development has generated fierce debates among the experts who disagree on concepts, interpretation and terminology; this discord has generated undesired scepticism and misunderstanding (Fulmer & Barry, 2004). CI and EI explore two distinctive aspects of cognitive abilities. The more accepted of the two, with many decades of extensive research, is CI (Viswesvaran & Ones, 2002). Over a hundred years ago, Spearman (1904) introduced CI as an essential part of learning (as cited in Schmidt & Hunter, 2004). CI is “essentially the ability to learn” (as cited in Schmidt, 2002, p. 188).

Gottfredson (1997) expands with terms like “catching on,” “making sense” or “figuring out what to do” (as cited in Fulmer & Barry, 2004, p. 247). CI is measured through psychometrics tests (or intelligence metric assessment) and expressed as a number called IQ or ‘Intelligence Quotient’ (IQ, 2014). There are many psychometrics tests, but the most popular are the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale – frequently revised and used worldwide (Human Intelligence, 2014). IQ scores range between 85 and 115 (please see Graph 1); the further to the right, the more gifted the individual. Early research maintained that IQ scores determined a person’s intelligence (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011) but society has evolved from this limiting idea. Many theorists agree that CI remains a reliable performance measurement (Fulmer & Barry, 2004). It is hard to ignore people’s intellectual or physical differences (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011) and to this day, CI remains the most widely accepted and understood cognitive theory (Fulmer & Barry, 2004), particularly in the fields of business, medicine and education.

Armstrong, Cools and Sadler-Smith (2012) attribute this renewed interest to several factors: research is now able to recognise the difference between abilities (CI) and personality (EI); the theories are easier to grasp and considered mainstream psychology; also research is conducted in a more ethical manner and the results are more convincing. This attitude is also reflected in empirical studies. Since the end of WWI, CI has been used to hire employees in the workplace (Yerkes, 1921); its use remains consistent in many behavioural categories of health risks, crime and occupation (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004). Mistakes are learnt from the past and researchers are more politically aware, ethical and flexible; morals and objectivity have replaced lack of transparency to factor human variables (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011). CI will stay as long as technology is employed at work (Salgado & Anderson, 2002; as cited in Viswesvaran and Ones, 2002).

However, some limitations are present in the research. One of the most significant limitation is Tthe wide variety of definitions and terminology generates confusion and doubt (Armstrong, Cools & Sadler-Smith, 2011). For example: intelligence testing (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011), intelligence model (Roberts, Matthews & Zeidner, 2010), general mental health (GMA) (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004) and so on. Another criticism is reducing individuals to a simplistic linear value, discounting environmental and cultural variables (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011). However the biggest criticism is the neglect of other vital aspects of cognitive ability (Neisser et al., 1996, as cited in Fulmer & Barry, 2004). Studies increasingly demonstrate that a single theory no longer provides adequate competency measures when alternatives are available (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004). CI constraints are not limited to theoretical concepts; there are a number of practical flaws. A typical CI drawback is the lack of practical use of academic skills in the real world (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004). Brody (2004) argues that a person may have knowledge of a discipline, but not the competence to put it into application in the work environment.

For instance: relationship counsellors may be familiar with the theories of dealing with harassment, yet fail deliver comfort, compassion and understanding for their clients. In reverse, research shows that some individuals without education may still possess competent thinking abilities (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011). *Linking sentence here if you’re going to introduce EI next* One of the most revolutionised ideas that came out of the nineties was EI and its impact on job performance (Goleman, 1998; as cited in Côté & Miners, 2006). Four elements define EI: thought-processing, problem-solving, learning, decision-making and interpersonal relationships (Witkin et al. 1977, as cited in Viswesvaran & Ones, 2002); the five personality dimensions of EI that affect work performance are: introversion-extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability and openness to experience (Wood et al., 2013). EI has been integrated in many organisations’ training including business schools, professionals, sales, management and so on (Côté & Miners, 2006).

A number of EI tests have emerged but the most popular one is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Myers, 1962, as cited in Armstrong, Cools and & Sadler-Smith, 2011). CI is far more accepted than before and research reveals EI capabilities too significant to ignore (Neisser et al. 1996, cited in Fulmer & Barry, 2004). As knowledge is easier to access anytime, anywhere in the world via technology, it is becoming less about ‘what you know’ and more about what to do with the information in terms of identifying, analysing and problem-solving (Fletcher & Hattie, 2011). EI is gaining considerable influence in the business world. Research demonstrates that EI predicts academic achievement beyond CI (Miller et al. 2007, as cited in Lyons & Schneider, 2005); it also works as a contextual predictor (Borman & Motowidlo, 1997; as cited in Viswesvaran & Ones, 2002). Where CI lacks consideration for variables, EI abilities allow for a more accurate assessment of work by accounting factors such as culture, gender, disabilities and other environmental elements.

Additionally, these cognitive abilities, which provide big insights into the human personality and its triggers, can be developed through adulthood (Boyatzis & Sala, 2004). In the practical sphere, the same concept is found. Where CI is deficient, EI is able to balance via a number of ways; for example by discerning and interpreting emotions using body language and visual signals where knowledge and practical skills fail on the job (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987; Sutton, 1991). And vice versa by those who lack EI and can increase their CI processes through developing interpersonal skills with colleagues to seek assistance to perform the task (Law, Wong & Song, 2004; as cited in Côté & Miners, 2006). Consequently, EI’s theoretical limitations are almost on par with the positive attention it has received over many decades. The lack of adequate research and empirical studies are its biggest downfall (Becker, 2003; Landy, 2005; Locke, 2005; cited in Côté & Miners, 2006). EI is also criticised over its theory and assessment (Davies, Stankov, & Roberts, 1998).

Experts can’t agree with its definition; some consider EI a function purely based on emotion, others suggest that EI is a mix of personality and emotional management (Lyons & Schneider, 2005; Cherniss, 2010). There are some mixed feelings about EI’s gain to organisations (Motowidlo, Borman & Schmidt, 1997; as cited in Côté & Miners, 2006). On the practical side, similar flaws are present. A practical limitation of EI is apparent in the MSCEIT questionnaire where the focus is to identify the emotional aspect of abstract art; a more practical approach would be to teach management and staff basic skills in stress tactics (Cherniss, 2010). The workplace is where individuals compete for goals, promotion or reputation; studies by Joseph and Newman (2010) or Williams, Bargh, Nocera and Gray (2009) caution about the possibilities of using ‘strategic’ EI for self-promotion in the workplace through manipulation, control and self-exploitation (Kilduff, Chiaburu & Menges, 2010). To avoid mishaps, the following is a proposed model to apply CI and EI in modern organisations.

There are a number of ways that CI and EI can be applied to modern organisations. 1) More studies are proving that the single theory approach is inadequate and moving towards an integration of the cognitive processes to provide a more satisfying model; where linear models are too simplistic, the critical use of moderation compensates for the other (Boyatzis & Sala, 2004, as cited in Boyatzis, 2011). Organisations would benefit by providing training in both CI and EI development on a regular and ongoing basis to override the honeymoon period of training, particularly focusing on staff with the most experience as it has been found that long term employment tends to lead to a drop in performance (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004).

2) It is important to formulate questionnaires in a clear concise fashion, and keep the content practical and focus on the topic. The audience needs to be carefully considered to keep the content appropriate, for example child counsellors versus drug rehabilitation counsellors (Lynn, 2002). 3) Provide alternative assessment styles to reach a wider audience; for example, delivered as a group or in a private interview (Cools et al., 2009). 4) Consider the relevance of a cross-cultural approach, and other variables such as gender, age group and position within the company. 5) consider a variety of medium to appeal to a wide audience; for example a video, a web-based interactive medium or virtual reality (Chan & Schmitt, 1997). 6) Do some market research relevant to the industry to ensure there are no gaps in the information delivered (Armstrong, Cools & Sadler-Smith (2012). 7) Use care and judgment at all times, respect privacy and cater for existing environment culture (open or discreet). 8) Explore areas in need of development, such as cultural, religious, and interracial.

9) Be mindful that not everyone will be at the same level of knowledge, skills, social ladder and cater for introverts and extroverts. In conclusion, there are differences between CI and EI as the two constructs cover two distinctive aspects of mental intelligence. Both are relevant and contribute to organisational behaviour, however, human behaviour is much too complex to be simplified into two single independent theories. The flaws and strengths found in EI and CI complement each other in a linear fashion (Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2004). In this essay, many aspects of CI and EI were explored. It was determined that in spite of a long history, a person is much more than an IQ, and that EI is still at early stage of development. Much work and development is required in the theories to further explore the human potential. To conclude, fFuture studies and competency assessment tools will be interesting to witness over the next few years if the research includes various human genetic variables in the endeavour to find more answers to adapt to change and reach the full potential of the human personality.


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