GIRLS mostly do better at it, people in rural areas usually have more of it, top managers have it even if they aren't as clever as others, and experience improves it: Intelligence based on emotions that influences how people behave and especially how they deal with problems.
Since the beginning of human civilisation, people and their behavior have been a subject of curiosity and research.
During the last century, attempts were made by different scientists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social scientists and educationists to study the human brain - so much so that a 'Decade of the Brain' was declared.
The advances in technology and increased research led the American Psychological Association to declare the first decade of the 21st Century as the 'Decade of Behaviour'.
Over the past 10 years, the notion of emotional intelligence has become a scientific framework for understanding the effects of behaviour and how people adapt to their environment. Recent studies indicate that emotional intelligence influences day-to-day problem solving behaviour in schools, communities, businesses and organisations.
At an individual level, it predicts a person's ability in problem solving, communication, morality, leadership and aesthetics.
Emotional intelligence and human behavior
The origin of this scientific concept finds its roots in the fact that emotions reflect relationships in thoughts such as sadness, which may indicate people are disappointed with themselves. Recognition of this relationship of emotions led towards the present view of intelligence, that emotions and cognition (knowledge gained through thought and the senses) can work hand in hand.
From the findings of different research on emotional intelligence, it is understood that people who manage their own feelings well and deal effectively with others are more likely to be content in their lives and therefore more likely to retain information and learn much more effectively.
The traditional idea of intelligence, which used to be restricted to the cognitive area of thought and knowledge, has undergone marked changes in recent years.
These days intelligence is more appropriately understood as being the meeting place of cognition and emotion, thought and feelings.
It appears that higher emotional intelligence is related to many aspects of success in life, particularly if a child is brought up in an 'emotionally intelligent' environment.
Finally, there is definite evidence that levels of emotional intelligence are changed through learning and life experience.
Greek philosopher Aristotle described aspects of the idea of emotional intelligence by stating it as the rare ability "to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way".
However, the present concept of emotional intelligence has been developing since the nineteenth century. The first time a German psychologist, Leuner, used this term was in 1966.
A few decades later, in 1990, researchers Salovey and Mayer came up with a ground breaking article and the term became popularised in 1995 when Daniel Goleman authored a book Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ ?. His book was circulated in more than 50 countries in 32 languages and than four million copies were sold.
Mayer and Salovey defined the term emotional intelligence as the capacity to reason about emotions, and use of emotions to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
Tools to measure emotional intelligence
The measurement of emotional intelligence has created considerable interest, but it has remained elusive for the want of better models or ways to explain it. These days methods for measuring emotional intelligence abound, based on two major sets of ideas involving the interplay of emotion and intelligence as it is traditionally understood, and other views that include mental abilities and personality traits as part of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence in teaching and learning
Conferences, workshops and discussions have taken place on emotional intelligence across the globe, bringing together the views and findings of eminent scientists on the use of emotional intelligence to improve day to day life.
Scholars have realised that there is strong need to include emotional intelligence in the school curriculum, as research has revealed that it is helpful in such matters as HIV/AIDS education, career education, education about addiction, suicide prevention and prevention of violence.
Some developed countries already include it in their school curriculum and in some it is a compulsory topic for medical graduates.
Greek philosopher Plato stated that all learning has an emotional base. A child's emotional state influences his or her ability to learn and it is beyond doubt that children's emotions have a huge impact on their school life.
Anger affects the atmosphere in a classroom like nothing else.
Similarly, in lessons where significant progress is made, it is likely that more positive emotions are present in both teachers and pupils.
Currently in the United States, several school-based activities to develop and promote emotional intelligence have been introduced, including the Social and Emotional Learning programme.
The USA state of Illinois established social and emotional learning standards as part of its learning standards and made them part of the core curriculum.
Importance of EI in the workplace
Top ranking people in the workplace sometimes have lower measures of intelligence than those working under them, but apparently manage because their emotional intelligence is higher and better developed. Market forces are beginning to demand emotional intelligence for job success. IQ (Intelligence Quotient) gets you hired but EI (Emotional Intelligence) gets you promoted up the ladder of professional success.
Daniel Goleman, who popularised the idea of emotional intelligence, holds the opinion that IQ accounts for 20 per cent success in a person's life, while most of the remaining 80 per cent are factors based on EI. EI can be improved through experiences throughout life but IQ remains constant after a certain age.
In a 2001 study in India, researcher Dalip Singh worked on personality characteristics and emotive styles of public and private sector managers.
He connected managerial success with an person's emotional intelligence.
Based on his findings he suggested a way to improve daily management functions and personal growth through the use of emotional intelligence.
The relatively recent discovery of emotional intelligence has been a major event in the psychological field. It gives a sense of being able to find solutions to the myriad problems people face at work, in their education and involving their health.
It is therefore considered critical to emphasise to children certain cultural values such as respect for others 'cultures and normal standards of society as well as such matters as ways of handling problems by parents, helping others in a crisis and sharing others' feelings of distress.
This will maintain an environment in which children can effectively learn in the many ways necessary for successful human development.
* Dr Vinod K Shanwal is an Associate Professor at the College of Humanities and Education at Fiji National University, based on Lautoka Campus. He is the author of Emotional Intelligence: The Indian Scenario and an editor of Emotional Intelligence: Theoretical and Cultural Perspectives.
PADRE JAMES BHAGWAN'S COLUMN