What Is Emotional Intelligence?

What is Emotional Intelligence? Emotional Intelligence refers to the capacity to recognize and manage our own feelings and to recognize and respond effectively to those of others.

There are various theorists who have developed different models of emotional intelligence. They are very similar but have a few variations in how they are structured. For the purposes of these lessons, we have chosen to use Daniel Goleman’s model with four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. This was originally developed in 1998 with five domains and redesigned in 2002 with four domains.

Each domain has the connected competencies listed inside the boxes. The following pages briefly provide some background on each domain in the quadrant.

  • Self- Awareness
  • Emotional self-awareness
  • Accurate self-assessment
  • Self-confidence

According to John Mayer (University of New Hampshire psychologist and one of the first to study emotional intelligence) self-awareness is being “aware of both our mood and our thoughts about mood.” It is also explained by Goleman (2002) as the ability to read and understand your emotions as well as recognize their impact on others. It can simply be put that self-awareness is a basic understanding of how we feel and why we feel that way. The more we are aware of our feelings that easier they are to manage and dictate how we might respond to others.  

  1. Emotional awareness is the result of this sequence:
  2. Sense the emotion (feeling)
  3. Acknowledge the feeling 3. Identify more facts
  4. Accept the feeling
  5. Reflect on why the emotion is showing up in that moment. Notice what other feelings are present or came before it. Ask yourself what its purpose might be, what it is communicating, demonstrating, or trying to teach you.
  6. Act – bring your thoughts and feelings up and take appropriate action, if needed.
  7. Reflect on the usefulness of the response and what lesson you would like to take away. The Emotionally Intelligent Team by Marcia Hughes and James Bradford Terrell, 2007, pg. 76-77  

This sequence happens continuously all day long as each feeling comes into the picture. The importance of self-awareness is to better understand that these feelings are constantly coming and going and it is important to deal with them in an appropriate manner.

It is equally important to be able to evaluate how this impacts the moods and emotions of others. There was a study done by Sigal Barsade (2002) on “The Ripple Effect: Emotional Contagion and Its Influence on Group Behavior” that shows that our emotions can be contagious and shared with others, even if we do not mean to. There is a process innate in human behavior that can cause us to mimic another person’s facial expressions and is communicated through nonverbal behaviors. The study also found we can influence each other socially; positive emotions towards others influenced cooperativeness and conflict in the study.  

  • Self-Management
  • Emotional self-control
  • Transparency
  • Adaptability
  • Achievement
  • Initiative
  • Optimism

Self-Management, or self-regulation, can be defined as the ability to manage one’s actions, thoughts, and feelings in flexible ways to get the desired results. Optimal self-regulation contributes to a sense of well-being, a sense of self-efficacy or confidence, and a sense of connectedness to others. The goal is for a self-regulating individual to be able to take his or her emotional responses as cu

es for both action and coping effectively in relationships. It is important to have an understanding of self-awareness first in order for this to be possible.

Emotions can swamp the brain causing feelings of frustration and overwhelming thoughts. This is due to what Goleman (1995) calls an “amygdala hijack”. The amygdala is the area in the brain that is the centre for the emotions and emotional behaviour. This area of the brain goes into overdrive causing high activity causing us to focus and obsess about whatever is causing our distress. It makes it very difficult to be able to think about anything else. For example, you are working with your fellow teen leaders on planning an upcoming camp. Another counsellor takes credit for your idea when sharing with the group. You get so focused on the unfairness of this that you miss what was said in the rest of the planning session.

The goal of self-management is to be able to recognize these feeling as a hijack and bring the brain back to mental clarity and concentration to the task at hand. It is important to learn strategies to allow your brain to do this before responding to the negative emotions.

  • Social Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Organizational awareness
  • Service

Social Awareness is the ability to accurately notice the emotions of others and “read” situations appropriately. It is about sensing what other people are thinking and feeling to be able to take their perspective using your capacity for empathy.

Goleman explains, our ability actually comes from neurons in an extended circuitry connected to the amygdala. They read another person’s face, voice, etc. for emotion and help direct us how we should speak to them.

“Empathy refers to the cognitive and emotional processes that bind people together in various kinds of relationships that permit sharing experiences as well as understanding of others” (Eslinger, 2007).

Our brains take note how the other person responded and the amygdala and connected circuits keep us in an interpersonal loop of emotional connection. In order to do this, we must have already become aware of the emotions of others around us and the circumstances that impacted them. Social awareness is all about noticing the person in the room that is frustrated by the task at hand and responding in a way that can prevent further negative emotions.


Brain Circuitry Example (adapted from Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A): An example of how this brain circuitry sends you information looks something like this – She’s getting angry by that last remark…she looks tired now…maybe I am boring her…oh, that’s better…I think she liked hearing that…   This is what we use to decide what we should say next.


Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy takes other people’s feelings into thoughtful consideration and then we can make an intelligent decision in respond to those feelings. Strong empathy skills also help us get along better with others who see things differently from us. Careful listening with empathy can help avoid these misunderstandings.  

Brené Brown does a good job of explaining the difference between these two in her video.

  • Video Relationship Management
  • Inspirational leadership
  • Influence
  • Developing others
  • Change catalyst
  • Conflict management
  • Building bonds
  • Teamwork and collaboration

The ability to take one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and the context to manage social interactions successfully. This quadrant pulls together the other 3 dimensions and creates the final product – relationship management. Often if we have the other three dimensions figured out, this will flow more naturally.  

This can be known as “friendliness with a purpose” or getting desired responses when working with others. This can be very depending on the situation and this is why this dimension actually has 7 competencies that fall under it that all have to do with relationships.

Relationship management can be used to influence those around us to make a good decision. We can sense other’s reactions to the situation and fine-tune our response to move the interaction in a positive direction. It is critical that this is a genuine attempt to help everyone reach the best possible outcome and not to ever become an act of manipulation for self-interest.

Another example of relationship management is dealing specifically with conflict of others. Those strong in this area can see that conflict is forming and take steps to move others away from this in a more positive interaction. Listening and empathizing are critical skills to deal with these often difficult conversations.   10% of conflict is due to the difference in opinion and 90% is due to the deliery and tone of voice.         -Unknown Relationship management can also be working with collaboration and teamwork of others. Using all of these skills from the earlier three dimensions in order to steer the group towards their goals. All teams are a collection of individuals and yet once together they can take on the emotions of others so it important to keep emotions positive.  

Barsade, S. G. (2002). The Ripple Effect: Emotional Contagion and Its Influence on Group Behavior. Administrative Science Quarterly, 47, 644-675. Goleman, D. (1998). Working with Emotional Intelligence. Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2002). Primal Leadership: Realizing the Importance of Emotional Intelligence, Harvard Business School Press         Link:


on Gardner’s work of multiple intelligences, Peter Salovey (Yale) and John Mayer (now University of New Hampshire) began mapping in great detail how to bring intelligence to one’s emotions. Psychologist Daniel Goleman popularized the notions of both emotional and social intelligence and brought them to the mainstream. His books are great reads; I’d encourage you to take a look.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the “capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions to enhance thinking” (Mayer, Salovey & Caruso, 2004).

Goleman has taken liberties with EI research and broadened the concepts beyond Salovey’s and Mayer’s conclusions. In bringing the ideas and concepts to the realms of pop psychology, self-help and leadership training, he changed the abbreviation from EI to EQ, a catchy acronym that reminds the lay reader of the term IQ (intelligence quotient).

I will summarize both EI (Salovey and Mayer’s original work) and EQ (Goleman’s hybrid). To consider which of the two approaches is better is a wonderful use of critical thinking and higher order processing (think frontal lobe and Bloom’s Taxonomy). My objective in presenting both, however, is much more simplistic: I want you to apply this information to your life in a manner that brings about growth and positive change. I want you to experience some insights and epiphanies, all of which will affect your communication and relationship interactions, thus making them more fulfilling. To aid in that mission I will toss in some commentary and a few questions here and there to stimulate your thinking. Consider the questions seriously and thoughtfully.





EI according to Salovey & Mayer:

The Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence describes four areas or capacities that collectively describe EI.

Perceiving Emotions: Reception, comprehension and expression of nonverbal signals during communication is a crucial starting point for a more advanced understanding of emotions.

  • How well do you “read” people’s emotional states?
  • How consistent are your nonverbal cues to your emotional state?
  • How aware are you of your own nonverbal signals?


Using Emotions to Facilitate Thought: That which we respond to emotionally becomes the focus of attention. This in turn, stimulates thought and can influence the emergence of creativity.

  • Do you find that your creativity emerges during emotional periods of your life?
  • What is the connection between your thinking and emotions?

Understanding Emotions: Emotions convey information. And, as emotions are energy (emotion comes from the word “emovere” which means “moving energy” or “energy in motion”), they stimulate us to act.

  • What is important about understanding the meaning behind emotions – in yourself and others?
  • What is important about understanding the actions associated with certain emotions – in yourself and others?


Managing Emotions: To the extent that emotions are under voluntary control, regulation and management of emotions – in self and others – is important to personal and social goals. (We could have a wonderful discussion about how much control we have over emotions. As we shoot out of the womb with them, and they are natural, do we really have control? For purposes here, let’s agree that we have the ability to learn to master our emotions. To not accept this as a possibility leaves us in a hopeless position, at the mercy of external elements.)

  • How much control do you have over your emotions?
  • How much control do you exert over your emotions?
  • In what ways do you play the victim role when it comes to managing your own emotional states?
  • What the hell is that about? What are you thinking?



EQ according to Goleman:

Self-awareness in knowing one’s emotions is the cornerstone of EQ. You might hear the terms meta-mood or meta-cognition used when reading about EQ. These terms refer to a reflectiveness about one’s own emotions and thinking – the ability to step back and think about feeling and think about thinking.


  • How aware are you of your own thoughts and emotions?
  • At any moment in time, if you were asked, “What are you feeling?” or “What are you thinking?” could you answer immediately?
  • How large is your feelings vocabulary? Seriously, without using any outside sources, list as many feelings and emotions as you can. Do it right now.
  • How skilled are you at reflecting on your own thoughts and emotions?


A second area of EQ involves managing one’s emotions – that is, handling feelings in a healthy manner. This area includes the ability to take control over how long emotions last, the ability to “shake off” feelings such as gloom, anxiety, worry or irritability, and the ability to self-soothe.

  • How well do you use positive self-talk to rally from anger, sadness, or fear?
  • How easy is it for external factors (including people) to shake your positive attitude or good mood?
  • How much time do you spend feeling what you perceive to be “negative emotions”? The reality is that emotions are simply energy, neither positive nor negative. Nonetheless we attribute the dichotomies of positive/negative, good/bad, healthy/unhealthy to our feelings. We’ll talk about this in another lecture. For now, answer the question as asked.
  • What skills do you use to calm yourself, help yourself to “feel better”?
  • How effective are these coping skills?


Motivating oneself and maintaining emotional self-control is a third realm of EQ.

This includes impulse control and delayed gratification as well as positive thinking and optimism.

  • How often do you make impulsive decisions based on emotion that you later regret?
  • What do you do to overcome feelings of disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, and frustration?
  • Are you more internally or externally motivated?
  • How long does it take you to re-energize or re-motivate to complete tasks after a period of down time?
  • How well can you separate wants and needs?


The fourth realm of EQ involves recognizing emotions in others. Empathy, altruism, and attention to nonverbal cues all play a part in this.

  • How well do you maintain your boundaries in the face of another’s emotions?
  • How much do you try to tune in to another’s feelings?
  • Would you describe yourself as a person who feels deeply?
  • How comfortable are you when others express emotions?


Finally social competence or the ability to handle relationships is the last realm of EQ. The ability to create smooth social interactions, comprehend display rules regarding emotional expressiveness, and social intelligence fit into this category.

(Social intelligence, while related, is a separate topic. As a quick explanation it involves the abilities including group organization and facilitation, negotiation of conflict, making personal connections, and social analysis/insight.)

  • How well do you work in teams and groups?
  • How would you describe your social skills?
  • How comfortable are you in social situations?
  • How well do you do at initiating, carrying and ending conversations?


Now that you have a basic overview of both EI and EQ, consider the following questions. Think these through and put your answers into words. Yes, say them out loud as if you’re answering the question in class. No weaseling out on this….


  • Does emotional intelligence matter? Why or why not?
  • Do you think emotional intelligence can be improved? Why or why not?
  • If you answered “yes”, how might someone go about improving his emotional intelligence?
  • How emotionally intelligent do you believe you are? If you took a
  • 100-point test to measure your EI or EQ, would you score in the top third, middle third, or low third of emotional intelligence?
  • In which areas of EI and EQ are you best skilled?
  • In which areas are you most challenged?
  • How might this LC provide opportunities for you to practice and improve your emotional intelligence?


A Review of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Abstract: Goleman’s book,     Emotional   Intelligence,   holds some valuable lessons as we attempt to design more effective educational programs. Goleman takes a more holistic approach to defining intelligence than the traditional IQ, which focuses on cognitive intelligence. By incorporating the cognitive AND affective dimensions of intelligence, he demonstrates that, to be successful in life, it takes more than just being “smart.” We are all aware of “smart” students who flunk out of college, or those who graduate near the top of their class only to be a failure in the work place. Goleman shows that the seeds of what he calls emotional intelligence are sown early in life, and affect not only how the person gets along with others, but also how they succeed in academic pursuits. In contrast to cognitive intelligence, which is “God given”, emotional intelligence can be strengthened later in life with proper tutoring and commitment. Goleman’s ideas are a valuable complement to the author's earlier studies of Perry’s model of intellectual and ethical development in college students.   This paper describes Goleman’s hypotheses and suggests how they might impact technical education.


Learning is an emotional process. If you doubt this, recall the excitement you felt when you finally succeeded in working a really difficult problem or finished a major paper. Remember the dread of entering an exam room when you weren’t sure about the material. If there is no emotion, there probably isn’t much learning going on. Consider the nodding heads in the typical large lecture. If learning is under the control of the emotions, then it behooves us to understand how we can use them to enhance learning in our students. It is also important to help students know how their “emotional intelligence” works to help or hinder their success as a college student. Fortunately, in the past fifteen years, significant new insights as to how the brain produces emotions have been discovered and the way in which they affect performance in all aspects of life has begun to emerge. This research has been made accessible to the public in Daniel Goleman’s book.


Goleman presents convincing evidence that the emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) is just as important in academic success as cognitive intelligence, as measured by IQ or SAT scores. A person with a low IQ may never be able to under-stand an abstract concept, but there are numerous examples of people with high IQ who never finish high school. A study of high school valedictorians and salutatorians found that only one in four made it to the “top” of their profession in their professional lives. As Goleman states, “The SAT may primarily be a good measure of a person’s aptitude for being a college professor.” EQ, on the other hand, seems to be a good indicator for success in a variety of endeavors and, with a reasonable IQ, is a good measure of success in college. The good news is that, while IQ seems to be genetically endowed, there is evidence that EQ can be enhanced with proper training and learning environment. So, what is EQ?

Emotions and Emotional Intelligence

An emotion is a physiological response to a situation that is too important to leave to intellect alone, such as danger, painful loss, persisting toward a goal despite frustrations, bonding with a mate, building a family. In effect, we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels. The brain evolved over a million years to deal with the major challenges of survival - whether to fight or flee, ignore, or embrace the approaching challenge. Although our day-to-day challenges seldom relate to those faced by the caveman, social problems such as road rage, drive-by shootings, and in-your face taunts on the sports field give evidence to emotions out of the control of rational thought.[1] While we use hundreds of words to describe emotions, they are commonly related to about eight basic emotions: anger, fear, happiness, sadness, love, surprise, disgust, and shame. Paul Eckman, head of the Human Interaction Laboratory at the University of California, has found that there are characteristic facial expressions to describe the first four of these, which have been found to be consistent in all cultures, including primitive ones with no access to the outside world.[2] We cannot remain in a high emotional state for long. Eckman states that the full heat of emotion

lasts for just seconds. At a less intense level, we may have moods that last for hours or days. At an even more fundamental level, we all have basic temperaments that shape our view of life and our role in it. Some people are naturally cheerful or optimistic, while others are negative or pessimistic. These temperaments shape our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Goleman suggests that a student with a positive disposition would see an F on a math test as evidence that he needs to work harder, while another may see it as evidence that he is stupid.

Amygdala: The Emotional Sentinel

Researchers like Eckman have identified the physiological process for the emotional rush. When an external stimulus is received by one of our senses (eye, ear, taste, nose, touch) it goes first to the thalamus, where it is translated into the language of the brain. Most of the message goes to the neocortex, the seat of rational thought, where it is analyzed and assessed for meaning and appropriate response.   If that response is emotional, a signal goes to the amygdala, a small almond-shaped region in the brain, to activate the emotional centers.   But a small portion of the original signal also goes straight from the thalamus to the amygdala, allowing a faster (but less precise) response. Thus, the amygdala can trigger an emotional response before the cortical centers have fully understood what is happening. The amygdala houses memories and response repertoires that we enact without quite realizing why we do so. This fast response can be life saving in desperate situations, but can also result in inappropriate action. The amygdala matures very quickly in an infant’s brain. The interactions between the infant and caretakers during the first years lay down a set of emotional responses, a blueprint for emotional life. More slowly, the neocortex, which is the source of rational thought, evolves based on cognitive training. It is because of this more gradual and extensive development of the neocortex that human beings are capable of the higher levels of rational reasoning unique to our species. The connection between the amygdala and the neocortex is critical to the functioning of the human mind. A brilliant corporate lawyer developed a brain tumor. When the tumor was removed, the link between the cortex and the amygdala was destroyed. Although he appeared just as bright in analyzing complex data, he lost his job and marriage because he could not make a decision. Decision making is tied to the emotions since it is valuebased.   It is the design exercises in engineering programs, which require decision making. Donald Woods defines “problem solving”, where ill-defined problems require value-based decisions, as distinct from “exercise solving” which refers to “recalling” familiar solutions to previously-solved problems. [3]

Emotional Intelligence

Properly used, the emotions are an essential tool for successful and fulfilling life.   But out of control, emotions can result in disaster. In our dayto-day life, they affect our relations with other people, our self-identity, and our ability to complete a task. To be effective, our cognitive processes must be in control of our emotions, so that they work for us rather than against us. Salovey[4] combined the work of several researchers to define the following measures of effective use of emotion, i.e. Emotional Intelligence (paraphrasing Goleman):

  1. Knowing one’s emotions: Self-awareness – recognizing a feeling as it happens – is the keystone of EQ. The ability to monitor feelings from moment to moment, cognitively as well as affectually, is crucial to psychological insight and selfunderstanding. An inability to read our true feelings leaves us at their mercy.
  2. Managing emotions: Handling feelings so they are appropriate is an ability that builds self-awareness. Having the capacity to soothe oneself, shake off rampant anxiety, gloom or irritability is critical to recovery from life’s setbacks and upsets.
  3. Motivating Oneself: Marshaling emotions in the service of a goal is essential for paying attention, for self-motivation and mastery, and for creativity. Emotional self-control – delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness – underlies accomplishment of every sort. And being able to get into the “flow state” (to be described below) enables outstanding perfor-mance of all kinds. People with this skill are more highly productive and effective at whatever they undertake.
  4. Recognizing emotions in others: Empathy, another ability that builds on emotional self-awareness, is the fundamental “people skill.” People who are empathic are attuned to the subtle social signals that indicate what others need or want. Empathy kindles altruism, which is the basis for social morality.

Handling Relationships: The art of relationships is, in large part, skill in managing emotions in others. This ability undergirds leadership and interpersonal effectiveness.

People differ in their abilities in each of these five EQ domains; some of us are quite adept at handling our own anxiety but not at soothing someone else’s.   But, the cognitive region of the brain is flexible and is constantly learning. Lapses in emotional skills can be remedied: each of these domains represents a body of habit and response that,

with the right effort, can be improved.   This capacity for long-term growth of emotional control is the basis for emerging educational programs, such as the Self Science curriculum described below.



Academic Excellence

Perhaps the most important element of EQ for effective academic performance is delaying gratification. Goleman describes an experiment in which four-year olds were given a challenge: “You can have one marshmallow now but, if you will wait until I have run an errand, you can have two marshmallows.” Some grabbed the marshmallow as soon as the experimenter left the room, while others waited as long as twenty minutes. This ability to resist impulse proved to be critical in subsequent academic success. Those children who deferred gratification at the age of four, were more socially competent as adolescents, less likely to freeze under stress, accepted challenges, were self-reliant and dependable; they took initiative and plunged into projects.   When the four year-olds who grabbed the marshmallow immediately reached adolescence, they were shy, stubborn and indecisive; they would tend to overreact to irritations with a sharp temper.   Upon high school graduation, those who delayed taking the marshmallow had SAT scores over 200 points higher than those who did not, even though there was little evidence of a difference in IQ at the age of four.

Perry’s Scheme

In my previous work using Perry’s model for intellectual development in the college years, we found that intellectual growth was by no means assured simply by being in college. Perry talked about the emotional risk inherent in moving from one position to another, particularly in the fundamental change which occurs in reaching for position five – Contextual Relativism.   Perry said that people learn best in their pleasure zone – between panic and boredom. Similarly, Goleman describes optimum performance as occurring when people are in “flow,” an emotional state in which the individual is grappling with a challenge which is within reach but requires total concentration. People who experience flow find it an invigorating state, described as spontaneous joy, even rapture. Athletes achieve maximum performance in flow, as do artists, writers, composers, and musicians.   Interestingly, the emotional energy level is low when a person is in flow, because no energy is being expended on anxiety or peripheral concerns. A mechanical analogy would be that of a system which is being excited at its natural frequency. A minimum of effort is required to keep it moving since all input energy is going into reinforcing the desired motion.


Creative achievements depend on single-minded immersion, such as occurs in flow. A study of students in a high school of sciences found that students who were most successful were in flow 40 percent of the time when doing their studying. Low achievers with the same score on a math proficiency test found that study provided flow only 16 percent of the time. More often than not, study created anxiety, with demands outreaching the students’ ability. Therefore, a learning environment in which students are challenged at an appropriate level, which can produce flow, will be more productive. Descriptions of the individualized active learning activities used in cooperative learning suggest that it promotes this type of concentration.

Growth and Change

While the intellectual growth that Perry describes can be considered cognitive development, the actual process of facing the challenges associated with that growth is clearly affective. Perry speaks with compassion about the agonizing that students endure as they give up a simple explanation for a more complex and useful understanding of life’s challenges.   A hallmark of people who have achieved Perry position 5 is the ability for metathinking, the ability to step outside oneself and think about the process that is being used to approach the problem - the ability to look at a problem from multiple perspectives.   This requires the selfawareness described in EQ. Perry talks about growth occurring in spurts of new discovery and achievement followed by a stabilizing period in which the new insights and capabilities are assimilated into other phases of one’s life. This relates to The EQ ability of emotional self-control, to stay with the task until the new plateau has been achieved. Many of the self-help programs have been developed to assist people in gaining control of their emotions. This is different from suppressing the emotions. Rather, the goal is to get in touch with feelings, to know what causes them and to take appropriate action in response to them. Conflict resolution, performance training, test anxiety reduction, stress management, etc. are all designed to identify the source of stress and focus it productively in order to respond to the situation in a way that will solve the problem rather than making it worse. The old adage, ‘’Count to ten when angry,” is designed to give the neocortex time to process the incoming information and decide on a reasoned response rather than lashing out verbally or physically in response to the initial emotional rush. Aikido, a form of martial art in which the respondent moves back or to the side in order to allow the initial attack to be absorbed or to pass by is designed with this in mind.

In Transactional Analysis, the goal is to identify the portion of the mind -Parent, Adult, or Child - which is receiving the message in order to identify an appropriate response which avoids playing psychological games. Keeping the Adult in control allows the Child to play appropriately. In Emotional Intelligence, Goleman explains that some people are “naturals” at high levels of emotional functioning. For most of us, deficits can result in limitations in performance and satisfaction in one or more parts of our life. For the “naturals”, as with people who have a high IQ, a natural athlete, artist, or musician, appropriate emotional responses come easily without thinking. As we work to strengthen our emotional functioning, the new behavior is learned and so must be applied consciously until it is mastered. Studies of “expert” behavior describe four levels of functioning: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and, at the highest level, unconscious competence.   At the lowest level, a person is not aware of his inability to perform a particular task. When he becomes aware of the limitation and chooses to learn the skill required to complete the task, he is at level two. After study and practice, he achieves conscious mastery. With continued practice, he eventually reaches a point where he can perform the desired task without thinking about it.[10] As we look at our own students, we can see a parallel. Those who do well spend long hours at their homework with a high level of concentration. They have developed a high level of problem solving ability, so they are efficient in learning new material and processes. They can apply these skills to a wide variety of subjects. By contrast, the marginal students learn less efficiently and, typically, minimally. They learn enough to pass a test, but without the satisfaction of real mastery. Studying is an unpleasant and anxious time. Copying another’s homework promotes feelings of guilt, which reinforce the negative associations with study and the topic being studied. Instead, they get their positive feelings from socializing or, at the more extreme level, by drinking or using drugs.

Social Competence

Looking at the ABET 2000 criteria, it is clear that promoting EQ underlies success in achieving the successful engineering program. ABET 2000 identifies 11 competencies that the students should have achieved by graduation. Two competencies deal with knowing science, math and engineering and solving engineering problems. These require the motivation to persevere in study until mastery is attained. Design of experiments and system design require the decision making skills

referred to by Woods.   Functioning on multidisciplinary teams, communicating effectively and engaging in life-long learning require effective people skills. Under-standing contemporary issues and the impact of engineering solutions on society, behaving in an ethical and professional manner are skills based on   empathy.


ABET 2000 is a behaviorally–based set of criteria. Understanding the emotional state of the student and the particular emotional skills required to achieve the stated competencies is critical to designing a successful curriculum. As with our earlier work with Perry’s scheme, which provided a road map for student development, EQ suggests the type of emotional skills required for top performance. The ABET criteria associated with academic performance, such as knowing and being able to solve analytical problems, are fairly obvious. But there are others which are tied to social dimensions: life long learning, team building, social implications of engineering, all of which require empathy and handling relationships. The McMaster Problem Solving instructional program is one of the most effective at addressing these issues. While we are only beginning to realize the need to teach these topics in engineering programs, industry has dealt with them for a long time. Modern industrial management systems are teambased. They are win-win models in which the team sets goals for collective achievement and everyone wins. Competition is defined in terms of the excellence of the product. It is understood that all world-class products are the result of a shared technology in which competitors borrow (not steal) from each other. This is a mature and socially responsible model for performance and human relationships. It reflects a healthy respect for ones competitors. This approach requires self-confidence, managing emotions, empathy, and communication skill in order to collaborate for a better result.

Incorporating EQ in the Curriculum

Academic programs which incorporate Emotional Intelligence training as part of the curriculum are being created at forward-looking schools such as the Nueva School in California. The “Self Science” curriculum at Nueva deals with the following topics:

Self-awareness: observing yourself and recognizing your feelings, building a vocabulary of feelings; knowing the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Personal decision-making: examining your actions and knowing their consequences; knowing if thought or feeling is ruling a decision; applying these insights to issues such as sex or drugs.

Managing feelings: monitoring “self-talk” to catch negative messages such as internal put-downs; realizing what is behind a feeling (e.g. the hurt that underlies anger); finding ways to handle fears and anxieties, anger, and sadness Handling stress: learning to value exercise, guided imagery, and relaxation methods Empathy: understanding others’ feeling and concerns and being able to relate to their perspective; appreciating the differences in how people feel about things Communications: talking about feelings effectively; becoming a good listener and question-asker; distinguishing between what someone does or says and your own reactions or judgements about it; sending “I” messages instead of blame Self-disclosure: valuing openness and building trust in a relationship; knowing when it’s safe to risk talking about your private feelings Insight: identifying patterns in your emotional life and reactions; recognizing similar patterns in others Self-Acceptance: feeling pride and seeing yourself in a positive light; recognizing your strengths and weaknesses; being able to laugh at yourself Personal responsibility: taking responsibility; recognizing the consequences of your decisions and actions, accepting your feelings and moods, following through on commitments (e.g., to studying) Assertiveness: stating your concerns and feelings without anger or passivity Group dynamics: cooperation; knowing when and how to lead, when to follow Conflict resolution: how to fight fair with other kids, with parents, with teachers; the win/win model for negotiating compromise.

EQ and Academic Survival

Our engineering students, as a group, come from a responsible segment of the youth culture, but they are still part of it. It is easy to assume that they do not suffer the problems that we hear about on the news. But they still are influenced by the messages that are being sent to them by TV, movies, the Internet and their peers. Youth today are, according to educational research, over-stimulated. They tend to have short attention spans, and are more likely to respond emotionally to a challenge than in previous generations. Curricula like Self Science and the new “Danger High” computer multi-media game are being used to help youth deal with the challenges in their environment. One of the most stressful times in a person’s life is the first year of college. A freshman is away from home for the first time. They have to make new friends and don’t know what the social code is. They are in large, impersonal classes, studying material that may be beyond their ability. A large number make very low grades on their first exams,

particularly in subjects like math and physics. If they have never dealt with academic failure before, this may be thrown on top of the pile of emotional drivers that already have them confused and frightened. It is not surprising that they are tempted to turn to drink and/or drugs to ease the pain and confusion, or sleep in for half the day, missing classes and getting further behind in their work. They are clearly out of their pleasure zone. Knowing how to control their emotions is critical to survival of that early period of transition to college. Of course, for some that is not a problem. Dan Budny‘s research shows that students’ first semester grades are the best predictor of satisfactory completion of the college degree, much better than SAT scores or class rank in high school.[17] I contend that their ability to excel in the first semester is in large part a measure of their EQ. Students with a high EQ are prepared to deal with the challenges of the new environment, setting up a responsible schedule and study plan, meeting new people, and dealing with the frustrations and anxieties of being out of control of the new environment. For those that are not well prepared for this, the college has an opportunity to provide programmed support so that they have a chance of survival. The student has to show some responsibility in taking advantage of what is provided, but an impersonal program will doom many potential engineers to leaving the program before they get started. With Goleman’s clear description of EQ, we have a new insight into what such a program should provide and the reasons for it. In a future paper, I will survey some of the innovative programs being developed in engineering schools across the country and indicate how they are working to promote a more effective EQ in their students.