Hardware Of The Brain And The Software Of The Mind

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For most of this century, "the hardware of the brain and the software of the mind" [screen 1, 1] have been studied by scientists. However, questions we wonder about most such as "why some people just seem to have a gift for living well, why the smartest kid in the class will probably not end up the richest, why we like some people virtually on sight and distrust others," [screen 1,1] just cannot simply be explained by cognitive theory. [1] These unexplainable questions have led to relatively new study called emotional intelligence today.

In modern day psychological research, emotional intelligence (EI) has appeared as one of the most widely discussed aspects of intelligence in the current literature. [2] Emotional intelligence was first introduced in the psychological literature nearly three decades ago. [2] However, it only received public attention in the past decade when Daniel Goleman published the best seller "Emotional Intelligence" which has done a great deal for popularizing the concept of EI. [3] EI has become one of the most hotly debated topics in the behavioural and social sciences. There are sometimes bitter disagreements about the meaning, definition, measurement and the implication of EI. [4] A number of converging factors such as contemporary cultural trends and orientation has led to people differing in emotional intelligence. [2]

To begin with, EI is thought to be an intelligence that anyone can have, and have in near equal measure. [4] EI has been the target of widespread interest due to the increasing personal importance attributed to emotion management for people in modern society. [2] The definition of emotional intelligence is the first major concern raised by critics as it is too broad and too fuzzy to be useful, and the second is that none of the available measures provides a reliable and valid assessment of emotional intelligence. [4] These two concerns are to some extent interconnecting as it is difficult to imagine how adequate measures can be constructed without an adequate definition of emotional intelligence. It is important to have a scientifically valid definition of emotional intelligence as the basis for devising satisfactory tests of the construct. [4]

Definitions of Emotional Intelligence

Unfortunately, there is no one consensual definition of what emotional intelligence is and what it should or should not encompass. [4] Popular definitions of emotional intelligence are varied and inconsistent. Generally, Goleman defined emotional intelligence as a different way of being smart. [3] It refers to the competence to recognise and understand emotions, express emotions, assimilate emotion in thought, and regulate both positive and negative emotions in one and other. [2] For example, being able to read the emotions of others intuitively, to maintain a long-term relationship with an intimate partner successfully, and to be in touch with one's own emotions. [4] To illustrate, there are five domains of emotional intelligence introduced by Daniel Goleman, [5] which are self awareness, emotional control, self motivation, empathy and handling relationships. [3] Self-awareness is the root of emotional intelligence. It is the ability to monitor feelings from time to time as they happen. With this domain, people make personal decisions with confidence and assurance. [3] Emotional control, on the other hand, refers to the ability to handle emotions in the right manner. People possessing attributes in this domain are better able to leave behind negative emotions like gloom, anxiety, and irritability. [3] They are the ones who are more likely to recover easily after experiencing life's ups and downs. [3] Self motivation concentrates one's emotions on the achievement of goals within the context of mastery. Thus, paying attention and creativity fall into this category. Persons with this domain are self-motivated. They are highly effective and productive in the work place because they can enter the state of "flow" often needed to complete a task. [3] Empathy is an essential "people skill" which refers to identifying emotions in others and the ability to sense others' feelings and perspectives. [3] It starts with self-awareness, in that understanding your own emotions is important in understanding the feelings of others. [4] Skills in handling relationship refer to the abilities common in people who are able to control their emotions and interact with others in appropriate ways. [3]

Emotional Intelligence measures

There are many types of emotional intelligence measures which vary widely in both their contents and their method of assessment. Basically, there are six measures that are commonly used today as they received most attention by emotional intelligence researchers and consultants. [4] They are Emotional Competence Inventory, Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory, Wong and Law EI Scale, Emotional Intelligence Scale, Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale and Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test. [4] The strategies used to measure EI can be broken down into personality-based and ability-based approaches. Emotional Competence Inventory, Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory, Wong and Law EI Scale and Emotional Intelligence Scale are personality-based measures whereas Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale and Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test are categorized into ability-based measures. These approaches result in different conceptualizations of EI. [4]

The Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI) is designed to assess emotional intelligence competencies and positive social behaviours. Emotional intelligence competence is defined as an ability to recognize, understand and use emotional information about oneself or others that leads to effective performance. [4] On the other hand, for the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i), Bar-On proposes that emotional and social intelligence are inter-related and they determine how we understand and express ourselves effectively, understand others as well as coping with daily demands and pressures. [4] EQ-i was developed based on this definition. [4] It is a self-report test designed to measure competencies including stress tolerance, problem solving, awareness and happiness. [6] Wong and Law EI Scale (WLEIS) is a scale based on the four ability dimensions described in the domain of EI which are the Self-Emotions Appraisal, Others-Emotion Appraisal, Use of Emotion and Regulation of Emotion. [7] Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS) is known to be positively associated with self-esteem and positive mood. This scale seems susceptible to faking good, and thus should probably not be used for selection decisions. [4]

One of the ability-based measures, Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS) is a test designed to assess the test-takers' mental ability in emotional identification-perception, assimilating emotions, understanding emotions and emotional management. [6] Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test is intended as a refinement of the MEIS following empirical research in this domain. There are some improvements in the convenience of administration, without sacrificing its psychometric properties compared to MEIS. [2]

Measurement and psychometric issues play a large part in the struggle between the science and marketing of EI. [4] In particular, measurement issues and considerations seem to be heavily affected by the scientific or marketing orientation of those evaluating EI measures. Psychological measures are most often evaluated in terms of their reliability and validity. [4] In general, EI test development has been successful as it appears to be reliable. This is because both performance and questionnaire techniques provide internally consistent assessments. [2] In terms of validity evidence, EI measure ranges from weak to moderate. The content validity evidence for EI measures is lacking because of vague theoretical development for many of the measures. It is no surprise that attempts to measure EI have been varied due to the lack of definitional clarity. [4] Studies need to go beyond showing how EI can confirm hypotheses about relationships with other variables in order to establish the validity of EI measures. [4]

The importance of Emotional intelligence in the workplace

"The construct of emotional intelligence has become fractured in the struggle between the scientists trying to develop a valid psychological construct on the one hand, and marketers attempting to develop a commercially viable psychological framework on the other." [pg 189, 4] Academic learning, qualifications and the intelligence of a person were emphasized for centuries. [5] However, recently, the use of EI measures for career selection and placement purposes has become a common practice in many organizations in the Western world. [2] More and more companies are realizing that EI skills appear to be an essential component of any organization's management philosophy. This is because various facets and components of EI have been claimed to make indirect contribution to success and productivity in the workplace. In theory, emotional intelligence should enhance an individual's ability to cope with time pressures, performance anxiety, and other distracters that interfere with successful task performance. If emotionally intelligent individuals are better equipped to handle factors that often limit task performance, emotional intelligence indirectly contributes to performance and effectiveness at work. [4] Researches done by experts claimed that emotionally intelligent individuals were able to solve more problems than people with low emotional intelligence, who were less likely to persist. Furthermore, people who are able to manage their emotional reactions during the performance of cognitive tasks may seem to be more productive at work than those who allow their emotions to interfere with task performance. [4] Individuals with high emotional intelligence are said to succeed at communicating in interesting and assertive ways, thus making others feel better in the occupational environment. [4] Although high work performance can be related to emotional intelligence, the link have been demonstrated almost solely in areas where strong interpersonal and communication skills have been required or where emotions were a moderator of work performance. [4]

Development and schooling of Emotional intelligence

EI is believed to play a major role in the development of social skills and interpersonal competencies. The importance of EI in the workplace has created interest in the public. Thus, scientists have been doing researches on the development of EI. The family environment is commonly viewed as a major force in the socialization of emotions. The family is essentially our first school for learning emotional knowledge. [2] In the familial context, children learn their emotional knowledge base as well as competencies in emotion identification and regulation from their parents. [2] Different parents may have different aims in the socialization of emotions in their children. One may feel that it is necessary to understand one's emotions and to express them in socially acceptable ways. These parents are likely to support their children in expressing emotions both positive and negative ways. [2] On the other hand, other parents may believe that negative emotions are harmful and should therefore be controlled. These parents are likely to teach their children not to experience and express negative emotions. Thus, these children may be less aware of their negative emotions as well as identifying them in others. [2]

The progression of learning EI from the home to the school environment would appear to be logical as EI appears being capable of being learned both inside and outside the home. [2] In fact, the classroom, being more formal in its organizational characteristics than the family, may be a particularly useful test of generalized EI skills that may be applied to other formal environments. [2] "One way of conceptualizing the core social and emotional competencies that underlie social and emotional education (SEE) is to divide them into skills and abilities that influences how students feel about themselves (self-awareness), how they see others (social awareness), how they handle their feelings and their personal needs (self management), how they interact with others (relationship management), and how they work through problems (responsible decision making)." [pg 129, 4] The trend of bringing emotional literacy into schools makes emotions and social life themselves key topics for learning and discussion, rather than treating these most compelling facets of a child's life as irrelevant intrusions. [4] In the process of emotional learning, the individual develops the aptitudes, skills, attitudes and the values necessary to acquire emotional competence. A variety of diverse efforts may be provided in emotional education such as class-room instruction, extracurricular activities, a supportive school climate and the involvement of students, teachers and parents in community activities. [2] Teachers are not encouraged to differentiate or to have separate classes in emotional literacy, nor for children to be differentiated by being examined on them, but to give the guidance through everyday classes and raise awareness of good behaviour. [8] Extracurricular activities seek to educate children about the value of emotional competencies. [4] Given that children can learn by observing and modeling real, as well as symbolic and representational models. Also, curriculum based emotional learning comes naturally with many of the liberal arts such as literature, theater and poetry. For example, children can observe how characters express and display their emotions. This form of affective learning proceeds throughout the educational system promoting the development of emotional intelligence indirectly. [2]

Ways of improving emotional intelligence

Either through inside or outside home learning, there must be several ways to improve the development of emotional intelligence. However, it is important to know that emotional intelligence is not learned in the standard intellectual way; it must be learned and understood on an emotional level. [9] It is not possible to master emotional intelligence through memorization. [9] It is a need to engage the emotional parts of the brain in ways that connect us to others in order to learn about emotional intelligence effectively. This kind of learning is based on what we see, hear, and feel through our sensory organs. Although intellectual understanding is an important first step, the development of emotional intelligence depends on sensory, nonverbal learning and real-life practice. [9] To illustrate, emotional intelligence consists of five key skills which are the ability to reduce stress in short period of time, the ability to identify and handle emotions, the ability to interact with others using nonverbal communication, the ability to use humour to deal with challenges and the ability to resolve conflicts positively. [9] EI can be raised with these five main skills.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the idea of emotional intelligence certainly seems to have come along at the right time. It is quite possible that EI fad has already peaked as it has clearly shown the pattern of explosive growth. [4] Many researchers have taken a serious look at issues such as the definition of EI, the measurement of EI, the relationships between EI and other relevant constructs. It does seem clear that EI controversy has helped transform EI from a somewhat isolated area of research, carried out by a small group of talented researchers, into a hot topic for research. As it is, EI has potential to overtake or replace intelligence quotient (IQ) as a yardstick in considering an individual's suitability to a given task in time to come.

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