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Mixed models of emotional intelligence: Goleman

Understanding Goleman's mixed model of emotional intelligence
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

Daniel Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence (1995) was conducted after Salovey and Meyer’s but Goleman’s model is probably more widely known.

The amygdala

Goleman suggested that the development of emotional intelligence early on in our lives is linked to the amygdala, the section of the brain responsible for ‘fight or flight’ – our instinctive emotional responses to threat and challenge. As we grow we develop and control our responses to all sorts of threats, real and imagined.

For example, as a child, if we know we are going to be told off by our parents we may try to run away (flight) or argue/have a tantrum (fight). As we develop, so do our emotional strategies. For example, we may accept punishment is deserved for our wrongdoing (rather than trying to run or fight). As we get more sophisticated, we might try to reason with our parents and reassure them that whatever happened won’t happen again.

The four aspect mixed model

Goleman developed a four aspect mixed model that mirrors this development and draws on both ability and trait emotional intelligence in the following ways:

  1. self-awareness – we start to identify our own emotional states
  2. self-regulation – we develop the ability to manage our emotions
  3. social awareness – we develop the ability to assess and influence others’ emotions
  4. social skills – we develop the ability to sustain good interpersonal relationships

He also proposes sub-categories to this model around individuals’ personal and social competencies and their ability to recognise and regulate their emotions.

In essence, Goleman believes that we are born with a general emotional intelligence that determines the extent to which we can develop any competences.


Goleman, D. (1995) Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. New York: Bantam Books

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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