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Smart sentiments

Your soft side might serve a greater purpose - making you smarter

 by Jacqueline Mazur
 published on Thursday, August 31, 2006

IQ isnít everything. Being emotionally intelligent can be just as important as having traditional smarts./issues/arts/697425
Photo illustration by Jeremiah Armenta / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
IQ isnít everything. Being emotionally intelligent can be just as important as having traditional smarts.


From Einstein to members of Mensa, everyone knows that a high IQ means a person is intelligent.

After all, in order to get good grades and be a success in life, it is necessary to have a high IQ, a score that measures your cognitive abilities.

Or is it?

It turns out that according to some experts, a person's "intelligence quotient" is only one part of the total package when it comes to overall smarts.

While IQ measures logical reasoning skills, verbal skills, spatial skills and one's ability to understand analogies, another important component in measuring intelligence is a lot less brainy: It's your emotions.

EI, or Emotional Intelligence, was popularized in the 1980s with author Daniel Goleman's best-selling book, "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ."

The book analyzed and defined EI as a measure of the concept that an individual can reason with his/her emotions and use these emotions to enhance thought.

Psychology sophomore Ryanne Johnson says EI can be an important measure because it helps show whether a person is able to cope with and use her emotions in a productive way.

"EI is knowing the basics of emotion," Johnson says. "If you don't express your emotions in a structured way, it can get really out of hand."

Goleman's theory on EI is based on five emotional competencies. First, there's the ability to understand the bond between thought, emotions and action. Second, the ability to manage ones personal emotional states and change them accordingly. Third, the ability to enter into these emotional states at will. Fourth, the ability to influence other people's emotions. And finally, the ability to sustain interpersonal relationships.

"In any working environment you have to interact with people," says Federico Sanabria, a post-doctoral research associate in ASU's psychology department. "So EI is very important."

And while standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT use IQ-type questions to test potential students' preparadness for the college world, many experts believe that people with higher EI scores are actually the ones who will be the most successful in life, even if their IQs are just average.

For example, according to Goleman, emotionally intelligent managers in the workplace can relate to their employees much easier, thus demonstrating his fourth and fifth emotional competencies - the ability to influence others' emotions and have successful relationships. Goleman says these managers are also generally highly motivated individuals and therefore have the ability to motivate those around them.

There is also evidence that EI-savvy individuals more readily understand and define things on a feelings level.

For example, instead of saying "Josh is an idiot," a person with high EI might rephrase that statement to say something like "Josh is having difficulties understanding work procedures."

So the question remains: should EI trump IQ as the most important measure of a person's intelligence?

Actually, it's not so simple. Assistant psychology professor Michelle Shiota says that both types of intelligence are important, and compliment each other to provide a more well-rounded picture of a person's intelligence.

"Either one without the other can be disastrous," Shiota says. "A mixture of the two is most lucrative."

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