Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.
Emotional intelligence is generally said to include at least three skills: emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.
There is no validated psychometric test or scale for emotional intelligence as there is for “g,” the general intelligence factor—and many argue that emotional intelligence is therefore not an actual construct, but a way of describing interpersonal skills that go by other names.
Despite this criticism, the concept of emotional intelligence—sometimes referred to as emotional quotient or EQ—has gained wide acceptance. In recent years, some employers have even incorporated emotional intelligence tests into their application and interview processes, on the theory that someone high in emotional intelligence would make a better leader or coworker.
While some studies have found a link between emotional intelligence and job performance, many others have shown no correlation, and the lack of a scientifically valid scale makes it difficult to truly measure or predict someone’s emotional intelligence on the job or in the home.