EQI.org Home | Emotional Intelligence | Problems with Mainstream Concept of EI

Emotional Intelligence and Fool´s Gold

What is EI?

That is the big question. We could say it is the million dollar question since people are making millions of dollars off of the term “emotional intelligence.”

Despite the money being made, there is no agreed-upon answer as to what EI really is. It is a bit like lots of people looking for gold but not knowing exactly what it is. And some people are paying others for what they are being told is “gold”, but I´d say there is a lot of false gold around, or we might say "fool’s gold" since so many people are being fooled.

I urge people not to believe everything that most of the websites say about emotional intelligence, not even mine. I, too, am questioning everything and searching the best explanations and understanding.

Here are some of the reasons why I say there is a lot of false gold around:

- Many people are confusing emotional intelligence with many other things. For example, they are confusing it with emotionally healthy behavior and emotional management skills. They are confusing it with things like optimism and resilience.

- They are not distinguishing between a person who is emotionally intelligent and a person who is emotionally secure or one who receives adequate emotional support.

- They are creating tests which confuse what is the most common answer with what is the most emotionally intelligent answer.

And there is no assurance that:

- the most intelligent answers are even being offered on the tests, or

- the test authors themselves even know what emotional intelligence is.

I ask you to really think about what would happen, for example, to a very emotionally sensitive child living in an emotionally, sexually and physically abusive environment.

If, as a teen, this person turned to alcohol or drugs as a means of numbing their pain, would it be fair to say they are not emotionally intelligent… and never were?

This is what Jack Mayer and his colleagues have recently suggested, according to Jack´s own
website. I feel very disturbed by this and by what many others are doing, and have done to the concept of emotional intelligence. So I will keep writing to add my two cents to the debate.

Steve Hein
May 31, 2006 (Revised Nov 2008, Podgorica, Montenegro)
Salta, Argentina

Related articles

- More Problems with the Mainstream Concept of EI

- Dark Side of EI

- Dan Goleman

- Reuven BarOn

- Definitions of EI

- History of EI

EQI.org Home Page

Core Components of EQI.org

Other EQI.org Topics:

Emotional Intelligence | Empathy
Emotional Abuse | Understanding
Emotional Literacy | Feeling Words
Respect | Parenting | Caring
Listening | Invalidation | Hugs
Depression |Education
Personal Growth

Search EQI.org | Support EQI.org

EQI.org Library and Bookstore