Does emotional intelligence predict success more strongly than IQ? In one sense, this question is purely academic: in life, cognitive abilities and emotional intelligence always interplay. But in another sense, it has practical implications for significant workplace decisions.
What’s the difference between IQ and EQ?
Let’s start by defining the two terms in order to understand what they mean and how they differ. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a number that signifies the relative intelligence of a person; the ratio multiplied by 100 of the mental age as reported on a standardized test to the chronological age. IQ is primarily used to measure one’s cognitive abilities, such as the ability to learn or understand new situations; how to reason through a given problem/scenario; the ability to apply knowledge to one’s current situations. It involves primarily the neo cortex or top portion of the brain.
EQ, or emotional quotient, on the other hand, is a measure of a person’s level of emotional intelligence. It consists of four fundamental capabilities: self-awareness (the ability to identify your own emotions and their impact), self-management (the ability to control your emotions and behavior), social awareness (the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of others and react appropriately), and relationship management (the ability to influence and connect with others). EQ involves the lower and central sections of the brain, called the limbic system.
So Which One Is More Important?
At one point in time, IQ was viewed as the primary determinant of success. People with high IQs were assumed to be destined for a life of accomplishment and achievement and researchers debated whether intelligence was the product of genes or the environment (the old nature versus nurture debate). However, some critics began to realize that not only was high intelligence no guarantee for success in life, it was also perhaps too narrow a concept to fully encompass the wide range of human abilities and knowledge.
IQ is still recognized as an important element of success, particularly when it comes to academic achievement.People with high IQs typically to do well in school, often earn more money, and tend to be healthier in general. But today experts recognize it is not the only determinant of life success. Instead, it is part of a complex array of influences that includes emotional intelligence among other things.
In 1995, psychologist Daniel Goleman drew widespread attention to the field of emotional intelligence with his best-selling book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.” Goleman’s thesis that emotional intelligence – or the ability to interpret others’ emotions and regulate one’s own – was a better indicator of success than traditional cognitive intelligence set off a flurry of new research. Since then the concept of emotional intelligence has had a strong impact in a number of areas, including the business world. Many companies now mandate emotional intelligence training and utilize EQ tests as part of the hiring process.
By the early 21st century, however, other esteemed researchers had introduced works refuting Goleman’s theory, or even contradicting it entirely. For example, a 2006 study by Cote and Miners revealed that emotional intelligence has little effect on work performance or workplace behavior for people with moderate to high IQs. Emotional intelligence only became a factor in workplace performance for employees with below-average IQs. Among those with low IQs, Cotes and Miner found that emotional intelligence could be an effective indicator of one’s success at work.
Others are quick to emphasize that both emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence represent just two pieces of the puzzle that is the human mind. Consider the work of Harvard professor Dr. Howard Gardner, who in 1983 released a groundbreaking book that described nine different types of human intelligence. Many believe that people who are lacking in one of these areas will simply build their strengths in other areas as a matter of survival and adaptation. Just as the man who loses a leg may build extra strength in his remaining limbs, a person lacking in emotional intelligence or IQ will likely increase his or her skills in other areas. As long as people retain this ability to adapt to their circumstances and those who work with or teach them recognize that we all have different strengths when it comes to intelligence, it’s hard to argue that any form of intelligence is more important or valuable than another, except under very specific circumstances or conditions.