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Defining intelligence

Read how the experts define emotional intelligence and add your contribution to the definitions.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

Although Daniel Goleman popularised the notion of ‘emotional intelligence’ (EI) in 1995, ideas around how people might recognise, discern and use their emotions and those of others to guide their thinking and behaviour have circulated since the 1920’s.

The concept of EI has developed as a way to understand why people act and behave in the way that they do in life and work. It can include, for example, insights into how people lead, why people get into conflict and what helps or hinders employee motivation and trust in others.

In examining potential definitions, Steptoe-Warren (2013: 123) speaks of:

‘an individual’s ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions’
Zeidner, Roberts, and Matthews (2009) ask us to consider emotions and the encounters they engender as a collection of skills and competencies.
We guide you to some further reading in the references area which focuses on the history and identification of emotional intelligence.

Your task

Based on what you have learned so far, can you think of a public figure who is emotionally intelligent?

In the community of practice in the comments area, name the public figure you have chosen and outline three of their attributes.


Steptoe-Warren, G. (2013) Occupational Psychology: An Applied Approach. Harlow: Pearson

Zeidner, M., Matthews, G., and Roberts, R. D. (2009) What We Know About Emotional Intelligence: How It Affects Learning, Work, Relationships, And Our Mental Health. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Further reading

Gardner, H. (1983) Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books

Goleman, D. (1995) Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., and Caruso, D. R. (2004) ‘Emotional Intelligence: Theory, Findings and Implications’. Psychological Enquiry 15, 197-215

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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