Goleman, a journalist, postulated that intelligence only accounts for 25% of the variance in relation to professional performance. Thus emotional intelligence is responsible for the other 75%. Emotional Intelligence can also be replaced by physically kinaesthetic intelligence, existential intelligence or a whole series of other intelligences.
Anyone who can follow this logic can stop reading. For everyone else, this article examines the idiocy of these invented intelligences… Yes, this article may be a bit long but worth reading 😉
Intelligence refers to the ability to understand abstract concepts, draw analogies, conclude logically, and capture ideas quickly. Intelligence is approximately normally distributed. This means that there are some people who have above average, average and below average intelligence. These terms are just banal words, above average simple means people who understand things faster than others. Explanations for these differences lie in the neural processing capacity, i.e. brain power (neural efficiency). It is also known that intelligence is partially genetically predisposed and thus is heritable. This is suggested based on twin studies (eg, Nisbett et al., 2012). Intelligence is strongly related to career success (eg, Schmidt & Hunter, 1998) and formal education (Asendorpf, 2007).
In summary: Unfortunately, not everyone can be exceptionally gifted. Or can they?
Multiple Intelligences: Everyone is gifted!
In 1983, the U.S. psychologist, Gardner, discussed his so-called “theory of multiple intelligences” for the first time. He concluded that there are seven independent “intelligences”. In one section was this motley collection of areas such as mathematical-logical, linguistic, and visual-spatial intelligence. This is very similar to the verbal, numerical, and logical component of most intelligence models. What makes the theory of multiple intelligences different is that there are still “intelligence” copies like the physically kinaesthetic intelligence or the interpersonal and intrapersonal “intelligence”.
In later versions of his theory Gardner sometimes considered the existence of a naturalistic “intelligence”, laser “intelligence” and spiritual or existential “intelligence”. With the spiritual or existential he was trying to encapsulate any perceived ability to understand spiritual or religious thoughts. Despite a degree of arbitrariness in the selection and derivation of these so-called “intelligences” and the lack of any empirical evidence, Gardner’s theory found fertile ground. The critics of “multiple intelligences” (eg, Locke, 2005; Rust, 2008) claim that the fandom was for two main reasons: Firstly, because people liked the many fun “intelligences”. And secondly because they had a political, though not a scientific, interest in the work – egalitarianism. If there are dozens of different intelligences, then everyone is gifted in at least one. Sounds fair, doesn’t it?
Why is emotional intelligence different from all the other intelligences?
The basic idea of a social or emotional intelligence emerged relatively early in psychological literature, but didn’t go much further. Recently Mayer, Salovey and Cartuso (2008) postulated that emotional intelligence has the ability to:
- Manage emotions
- Understand the language of emotions and the signals that they send
- Support the thinking by emotions
- Experience emotions
A practical example of the last point: After reading only a few pages of Goleman’s argument (1996) I experienced, and recognized the emotion of great anger. This is close to emotional intelligence.
What’s the outcome of emotional intelligence?
Goleman provided amazing insights into the practical use. He not only explains emotional intelligence, but also why people with high IQs are running amok, as well as the differences between top performers and mediocre contemporaries. In order to determine to what extent these reckless considerations correspond to reality, data on a person must be gathered and their EQ and IQ must be measured. There are a number of different tools do calculate this with. The best known is a test called MSCEIT (Mayer et al., 2003). It is used to measure the perception of emotions, integration and assimilation of emotions, knowledge about emotions, and the management of emotions. The fundamental question for practitioners now is whether or not emotional intelligence has any explanatory value in terms of professional performance.
For this purpose there is a new meta-study (O’Boyle et al., 2011). It examined the relationship between emotional intelligence and job performance in cognitive control abilities (real intelligence) and personality. So the question was: Is there anything with regard to job performance that emotional intelligence can explain, which cannot be explained by real intelligence and personality? The MSCEIT achieved an incremental explained variance of 0.4%, which with rounding is 0% – this means that the intelligences have little explanatory value. They are superfluous. To try and predict a candidate’s future work performance based on their “emotional intelligence” is about as useful as the appendix is to the digestive system.
Conclusion: A plea for more intelligences
Based on this theory and its intelligent disciples, there is only one logical conclusion: we need more “intelligences”. Because currently there might be some individuals who are disadvantaged by the fact that there is no intelligence in which they quality as gifted. After all, there is now already “sexual intelligence” (Conrad & Milburn, 2002) and “relationship intelligence”, “cosmic intelligence”, “moral intelligence” (Coles, 2008) and a number of other more or less funny intelligences.
From champagne guru to prostitutes there is something for everyone. However, in order to dilute the concept of intelligence completely, these are still far too few. Basically, you just have to explain any differences in behaviour with an underlying intelligence. This way everyone has an area in which they are gifted. Can we also combine it with popular trends? Do we now need “Facebook Intelligence”? Which, of course, would then be followed by “Twitter Intelligence”. The validity of these constructs will be assessed based on the number of friends, likes and followers. Appropriate tests will certainly be available soon. As a last resort, the next logical intelligence would have to be the “invention of intelligences intelligence”, the meta-intelligence. Gardner and Goleman would definitely be unbeatably gifted in this area. As this process continues the selection criterion becomes as absurd as the “intelligence” itself.
Conte, J. M. (2005). A review and critique of emotional intelligence measures. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 433 -440.
Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional intelligence.London: Bloomsbury.
Locke, E., A. (2005). Why emotional intelligence is an invalid concept. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 425-431.