The phrase emotional intelligence was coined by Yale psychologist Peter Salovey and the University of New Hampshire’s John Mayer five years ago to describe qualities such as understanding one’s own feelings, empathy for the feelings of others and ‘the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living’. Their notion is about to bound into American conversation, handily shortened to EQ, thanks to a new book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam) by Daniel Goleman.
This New York Times science writer, who has a PhD in psychology from Harvard and a gift for making even the chewiest scientific theories digestible to lay readers, has brought together a decade’s worth of behavioral research into how the mind processes feelings. His goal, he announces on the cover, is to redefine what it means to be smart.
when it comes to predicting a person’s success, brain power as measured by IQ and standardized achievement tests may actually matter less than the qualities of mind once thought of as ‘character’, before the word began to sound quaint in the US.
Goleman is looking for antidotes to restore ‘civility to our streets and caring to our communal life’. He sees practical applications everywhere in America for how companies should decide whom to hire, how couples can increase the odds that their marriage will last, how parents should raise their children and how schools should teach them.
When street gangs become substitutes for families, when school-yard insults end in stabbings, when more than half of marriages end in divorce, when the majority of the children murdered in the U.S. are killed by parents and step-parents – many of whom say they were trying to discipline the child for behaviour such as blocking the TV or crying too much – it suggests a need for remedial emotional education. While children are still young, Goleman argues, there is a ‘neurological window of opportunity’ since the brain’s prefrontal circuitry, which regulates how we act on what we feel, probably does not mature until mid adolescence.
EQ is not the opposite of IQ. Some people are blessed with a lot of both, some with little of either. What researchers have been trying to understand is how they complement each other; how one’s ability to handle stress, for instance affects the ability to concentrate and put intelligence to use. Among the ingredients for success, researchers now generally agree that IQ counts for only 20%; the rest depends on everything from social class to luck to the neural pathways that have developed in the brain over millions of years of human evolution.
Emotional life grows out of an area of the brain called the limbic system, specifically the amygdala, where primitive emotions such as fear, anger, disgust and delight originate. Millions of years ago, the neocortex was added, enabling humans to plan, learn and remember. Lust grows from the limbic system; love, from the neocortex. Animals such as reptiles, which have no neocortex, cannot experience anything like maternal love.
This is why baby snakes have to hide to avoid being eaten by their parents. Humans, with their capacity for love, will protect their offspring, allowing the brains of the young time to develop. The more connections there are between the limbic system and the neocortex, the more emotional responses are possible.
If emotional intelligence has a cornerstone on which most other emotional skills depend, it is a sense of self awareness, of being smart about what we feel. A person whose day starts badly at home may be grouchy all day at work without quite knowing why. Once an emotional response comes into awareness – or, physiologically, is processed through the neocortex – the chances of handling it appropriately improve. Scientists refer to ‘metamood’, the ability to pull back and recognize that what I’m feeling is
anger – or sorrow, or shame.
Mark the best choice.
1. It can be inferred from the text that .
a) the term ’emotional intelligence’ was first used by Daniel Goleman
b) EQ is the understanding of one’s own and others’ feelings and the ordering of
one’s own emotions in order to lead a better life
c) Goleman’s book examines the behavioral research of the last couple of years
on how the mind processes feelings
d) Goleman’s book is written in a highly complex language
2. According to Goleman, a person’s success can be predicted best by giving the
priority to .
a) character b) l.Q. c) achievement tests d) brain power
3. In his examples of practical applications, Goleman does not mention
a) marriages b) street gangs c) universities d) companies
4. Goleman thinks that the brain’s prefrontal circuitry .
a) is responsible for co-ordinating acting and feeling
b) becomes mature before the age of ten
c) functions better in parents than in step-parents
d) is better developed in married people
5. A person’s success depends least on his .
a) l.Q. b) social class c) luck d) neural pathways
6. The neocortex .
a) serves as an area of primitive emotions
b) had developed in the brain before the limbic system
c) enables the humans to regulate their primitive emotions
d) doesnt have as important a function as the amygdala has
7. When a person is in a ‘metamood’, he .
a) is angry c) acts in a shameful way
b) analyzes himself d) is unaware of himself