Traditionally in psychological and sociological research emotions were perceived as an obstacle to the development of one’s intelligence. Specifically, they were perceived as an irrational force that should be ignored and strongly controlled in order to avoid problems in the decision-making process. However, further research showed that emotions indeed are the signs of an individual’s responses to the surrounding world and they signify a person’s success in terms of his or her adaptation to circumstances. In addition to this, emotions are closely intertwined with one’s survival potential.
For instance, such an emotion as fear shows that ‘a person is facing a relatively powerful and uncontrollable force’ (Mayer & Salovey, 1997, p. 9). Today’s definition of emotional intelligence brings to the fore the idea that this intelligence incorporates a number of various abilities such as the ability to express emotions accurately, the ability to express generate emotions when they facilitate the thinking process, the ability to control emotions to enforce intellectual growth etc (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). The conceptualization of emotional intelligence brought scholars to the idea that standard IQ tests measure only a very limited list of intelligences.
Although there is not a lot of evidence to support the theory of multiple intelligences, most of the scholars working in this field emphasize the fact that intelligence is not a tangible object that can be measured empirically. However, there are at least four different claims that support multiple intelligences theory created by Gardner. Firstly, as a part of the development of his theory, Gardner used the empirical findings of hundreds of studies from different disciplines (Waterhouse, 2006). Secondly, according to the proponents of MI theory, the theory incorporates the elements of other theories such as the theory of mind, recognition of self etc, all of them are empirically supported (Waterhouse, 2006). Thirdly, Gardner argues that the analysis of profiles of pre-school children support the theory of multiple intelligences. Finally, as it has already been noted, intelligence is a very complex phenomenon that is hard to measure empirically. Therefore, although the theory might lack empirical support, it is important to pay attention to the fact that the object of study is very complex and therefore different to test empirically.
Only some components of the Big Five Personality Traits theory might be associated with emotional intelligence. To be more specific, while such traits as agreeableness and neuroticism can indeed be associated with emotional intelligence, other traits such as conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness most likely will not correlate with emotional intelligence. Agreeableness signify one’s degree of emotional intelligence given that it measures such traits of a person’s character as tolerance, sensitivity etc, which requires the ability to express and generate one’s emotions accurately. Similarly, neuroticism, or emotional stability refers to a person’s degree of irritability, anxiousness etc, which directly incorporates emotional intelligence.
In the meantime, conscientiousness measures other features of a person’s character that are not related to one’s potential in terms of understanding emotions, such as one’s organizing skills, punctuality etc. Similarly, openness measures one’s curiosity and the degree of a person’s openness to new experience. These abilities do not require the control over the six basic emotions once defined by Paul Ekman. Finally, extraversion is more likely correlated with social intelligence, if compared to the emotional intelligence. It measures individual’s sociability that, however, might also be affected by and be dependent on a person’s degree of emotional intelligence.
- Mayer, J.D., Salovey, P. (1997). What is Emotional Intelligence? In P. Salovey & J.D. Sluyter (Eds.) Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence. New York: Basic Books.
- Waterhouse, L. (2006). Inadequate Evidence for Multiple Intelligences, Mozart Effect, and Emotional Intelligence Theories. Educational Psychologist, 41(4), 247-255.