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The cognition ability among humans is as varied as their physical abilities. However, one apparent fact is that they all possess some similar characteristics. Psychologists have often tried to understand humans by studying their behavior and explaining it in terms of sense cognition. As such, it has been argued that the way a person perceives and interprets his physical world, described and exhibited in behavior, is determined by intelligence. However, psychologists are not yet agreed on the exact definition of intelligence even though there are some agreed upon attributes that can be attached to the concept.
The ability to comprehend complex ideas, handle situations effectively and reason is varied among humans. It is recognized that this variation is substantial but never consistent as an individual will exhibit different intellectual performance on different occasions. The concept of intelligence is thus aimed at rearranging and clarifying these complex phenomena. There has been progress with regard to rearranging and clarifying these complex phenomena even though they still do not command universal assent.
Psychologists have often focused on cognitive aspects on their analysis of intelligence.
In other words, emphasis has always been laid on such aspects like memory and problem solving skills. However, some psychologists recognize the importance of non-cognitive aspects in analyzing intelligence. In his definition, David Wechsler identifies such factors like rationality, purposeful action and ability to handle the environment effectively as the main features of intelligence. In his early works, Wechsler identified non-intellective as well as intellective aspects. By intellective and non-intellective aspects, he was referring to social, personal and affective factors.
(Wechsler, 1940: 444-445) He further held that the possibility of success in life is dependent upon non-intellective abilities. In recent past, a new aspect has emerged with regard to intelligence and this has been motivated by the need to explain how emotions and thought impact on each other. It is thus in the interest of this paper to look at this aspect of intelligence which has gained prominence in the field of psychology. This new aspect is what has been referred to as emotional intelligence. In this paper, I will look at the development, theories and elements of emotional intelligence. What is Emotional Intelligence: Background
The term emotional intelligence was coined by Salovey and Meyer in 1990. When they coined this term, they were well aware of the previous work by other psychologists on non-cognitive aspects of intelligence. In their description of emotional intelligence, Salovey and Meyer viewed it as the ability of an individual to guide his or her thinking and action through monitoring his or her feelings and emotions (and those of others) and compare them against his own. As such, they considered it a form of social intelligence. The study in this field of social intelligence emerged as a result of research in the field of cognition and affect.
Research in this area also gained prominence as a result of works by other psychologists who pointed out that there could be a cognitive connection between mood and judgment. These psychologists suggested that there could be a possibility that when a person gets happy, for instance, he is bound to cognitively judge his past positively thus elevating his moods further. On the other hand, bad moods lead to negative thoughts thereby increasing or worsening the condition. Robert Zajonc (1980) suggested that in determining attitudes, feelings played a bigger role than cognition.
His argument was that it is feelings which paid attention to the physical world. This view emanated from an empirical conception of human life. It is a widely held position that it is the senses that is responsible for feeding the brain with information for interpretation. This on the other hand affected or is affected by moods and memory. The influence of mood on memory was examined by Gordon Bower who described an activation model of memory. He observed that happy moods influenced happy thoughts while on the other hand, sad moods influenced sad thoughts.
(Bower, 1981) According to him, if one was in the state of happiness, he is bound to view his past social actions positively which in turn stimulates positive thoughts. On the other hand, if one is sad, he is bound to view his past as a series of failures within the social realm thereby increasing his sadness. As such, the state of mind influences attitude and cognition. This analysis by Bower helped in the comprehension and explanation of many empirical aspects of emotional intelligence. Much contribution in the field of emotional intelligence was brought by Clerk and Fiske’s ‘Affect and Cognition’.
A departure from research on the interaction between emotion and cognition was marked by the study of emotion and thought by social, personality and cognitive psychologists. The concept of defense mechanism by Sigmund Freud even though put emphasis on the pathological factors, also recognized and emphasized on the interaction between thought and emotion. The view that emotions prejudiced and disrupted thought was inherited when the cognition and affect literature surfaced. The idea that emotions and thought caused biasness went hand in hand with the idea that emotions could be adaptive for thought.
This went on as inquiries into emotions and thought diverged from an emphasis on psychopathology to normal everyday thoughts and moods. The result was the idea that intelligence and emotions can integrate to perform complex information processing that either cannot manage independently. This was the development of the concept of emotional intelligence. Salovey and Mayer in their attempt to develop accurate and valid measures of emotional intelligence initiated a research program which was also meant to explore its significance. Daniel Goleman recognized their work which led to his formulation of the theory of emotional intelligence.
Theories of Emotional Intelligence There is a general conception that emotion and intelligence are two distinct concepts which cannot integrate. As such, the term emotional intelligence appears as a contradiction. However, emotions often convey messages which can be processed. That is, they signal relations. This assumption makes the term sensible. Philosophers have often inquired into the nature and meaning of emotions and came into a conclusion that they define the relationship between an individual and other members of the society. As such, every emotion defines an individual’s relationship with himself and his relationship with others.
There is a universality and regularity in the meaning of emotions. Comprehending the universal meaning of emotions was adopted by cognition and affect researchers. A system which defined joy as a positive feeling which comes after an assurance that an action will be rewarded and relief as a positive feeling which points to the absence of punishment was outlined by Roseman (1984). A similar approach was taken up by Ortony, Clore and Collins (1988) which defined joy as a “well being” emotion which comes as a result of self reaction to desirable occurrence.
Emotional intelligence can be fragmented into four branches of abilities. These include perceiving and expressing emotions, integrating emotions in thoughts, comprehending and managing emotions. All these are important in the overall theory of emotional intelligence. Perceiving Emotions Accurate perception is the first step in emotional information processing. The system of emotional perception is a product of evolution built through time so as to facilitate communication between parent and child. The child therefore learns emotions from the mother.
For instance, when the infant smiles, her mother reflects back the kind of face associated with smiling which in this case is contracting the cheek’s muscles. As a person grows, he learns to generalize patterns of how emotions are manifested in the physical realm which includes objects, artwork and even other people. For instance, a person may associate a relaxed shouldered posture with calmness. Emotional integration After the perception of an emotion, it has the capacity to influence cognition at various points of processing. Emotional integration thus focuses on the contributions that emotion makes in the reasoning process.
Various suggestions have been put forward on how emotions may facilitate cognition. According to Easterbrook (1959), Mandler (1975) and Simon (1982), emotions provide an impulse to prioritization. (Tad. In John D. Mayer, Emotions, Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence. p. 420) For instance, someone in deep concentration in say, a movie is oblivious of the surrounding environment, even the couch he is seated on. Nonetheless, he may experience a growing sense of anxiety and on hearing the voices of children outside; he realizes that he is supposed to be in a psychology class.
The interrupting anxiety to some extent is a second processing system independent of the central cognitive system. As such, it enables cognition to direct resources to a problem until and unless a competing response emerges. Another way through which emotions help cognition is by functioning as a secondary store about emotions themselves. For instance, if an artist wants to paint suffering, he reflects back on an experience or scene of suffering and recreates the feeling. The act of mood cycling or mood switching is another way through which emotions contribute to intelligence.
Cognitive system is often refreshed by mood alterations. These mood alterations have a consequence of bringing various emotional tools to handle a particular problem. According to Mayer, a shift in judgment through increasing motivational direction may enhance functioning. (Ibid. 421) A cycling of moods also provides different perspectives on a subject or problem thereby enhancing creativity. Mood can also assist intelligence by providing implicit information on past experiences. As such they act as references in decision making processes.
For instance, one may have some facts on a given event but still would not be in a position to choose which of his alternatives is best for him. As such, he reflects back on his feelings towards those alternatives. Emotions thus summarize these past experiences. Comprehending Emotion The closest branch to traditional intelligence is understanding emotions. The hypothesis is that there exists a mental processor whose main function is to understand, abstract and reason about emotional data. Labeling feelings and understanding what they represent are just but part of this processing.
For instance, one may label a feeling love. As such, he or she recognizes that love reflects upon relationship with other people. Emotion Management This is the final branch to emotional intelligence model. It involves the management of emotions for personal development and growth. For instance, an informative emotion enables one to gather information about his environment, especially the social environment, if one opens himself for such information. People open to sadness will best understand the painful conditions which man has to grapple with in the course of existence.
This also enhances the good in the sense that one may not be in the position to appreciate blessings if he doe not understand the difficulties in life. For instance, after sacrificing ones time to study hard, he may achieve happiness when he graduates with a first class honors. However, openness is not the end of management. The knowledge gained from perceiving, integrating and understanding emotional dispositions must be put into practical use in order to maximize emotional management.
In other words, it is through perceiving and understanding emotions that one knows the consequences of experiencing them or blocking them. The theory has left open the way in which emotional intelligence manage emotions. Intelligence enables one to explore and evaluate possibilities with their own goals in mind. Even though one may hope that many people manage their emotions well, emotionally intelligent individuals at times manage their feelings negatively. Discussion The foundations of the new theory of emotional intelligence are based on the field of cognition and affect.
As inquiries were made on how thoughts were altered by emotions by cognition and affect researchers, a shift emerged from the clinical researchers who emphasized on how thoughts were pathologized by emotions. Normalization of such phenomena was started by the cognition and affect researchers who who found them in everyday human behavior. The focus of emotional intelligence was thus how emotions and intelligence facilitate each other mutually in order to create a high level of emotional information processing and a higher level of thought.
A model of emotional intelligence was formulated which viewed it as a form of intelligence mainly concerned with processing emotional signals related to relationships. As such, emotional intelligence is concerned with the capacity to consider emotions rationally for better management. Measuring Emotional Intelligence The assessment of intelligence is done entirely by ability tests. As observed earlier, theoretical model construction and measurement procedures are involved in the development of emotional intelligence. Individuals who take ability tests are subjected to relevant mental tasks within a controlled environment.
This is meant to measure their optimum mental performance. However, the examination of many different skills which may be tied to intelligence is a requirement for the establishment of intelligence. This is so because the existence of intelligence is based upon the intercorrelation between skills which also develop with age. The Value of Emotional Intelligence When people are confronted with setbacks or failure, they tend to make some causal attributions. Optimists tend to make external attributions that are temporary and specific while pessimists make internal attributions which are universal and permanent.
This is according to learned optimism construct developed by Martin Seligman. In a research carried among salesmen by Seligman and his colleague, they found that optimistic new salesmen sold more insurance in their first years than the pessimistic ones. When the company hired another group of individuals who failed normal screening but scored high on optimism, the made more sales than the pessimists by 21 per cent. (Schulman, 1995). an aspect of emotional intelligence which has exhibited much success is the ability to handle stress and manage feelings. Tests of Emotional Intelligence
According to Goleman, even though entry level executive positions require technical skills and IQ, high emotional intelligence is an integral part of high performance leadership. A simple emotional test based on theories by Goleman can help identify emotional intelligence and leadership. As such, one may establish his emotional intelligence through the use of emotional intelligence test so long as it is based firmly on emotional intelligence theory. A happier and more balanced lifestyle can be achieved by an awareness of ones emotional abilities which may also help in improving his emotional intelligence.
Rating of ones ability to regulate his emotions in a balanced and healthy manner can be achieved through emotional intelligence tests. After the completion of the test, an individual is in a better position to comprehend his greatest emotional strengths and weaknesses which enables him to evaluate his aptitude in every emotional category. Emotional intelligence theory is also important in identifying the emotional intelligence of a child which provides abase for emotional intelligence training. Developing emotional intelligence skills require that one is in a position to identify his emotional intelligence strengths and weaknesses.
Bower, G. , H, (1981) Mood and Memory. American Psychologist. 36, 129-148 ed. John D. Mayer, Emotions, Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence. p. 420 Goleman D. (1995) Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Mayer, J. & Salovey, P. Choosing a Measure of Emotional Intelligence: The Case for Ability Scales. In R. Ban-On Handbook for Emotional Intelligence. Guilford Wechsler, D. (1940) Non intellective Factors in General Intelligence, Psychological Bulletin, 37, 444-445 Zajonc, R. , B. , (1980) Feeling and Thinking: References Need No Inferences. American Psychologist, 35, 151-175
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