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IQ and EQ

IQ and EQ: who can spot shades of emotion?
IQ and EQ: can’t higher IQ people better discern between shades of emotion?

IQ and EQ are two different concepts, but are related. But let me provide you with some background on the two concepts first.

IQ stands for “Intellectual Quotient”, which is also a term used in every day life to mean general intelligence. The term was coined by Frenchman Alfred Binet in the late 1800s. Binet was asked by the Paris ministry of education to devise a test which could help weed out intellectually slower children from the classroom in an attempt to ensure that normal or bright children would not be held back unnecessarily.  So Binet came up with the concept of “Mental Age” or MA which would be compared to the child’s “Calendar Age”. The ratio of the two – i.e. (MA/CA) x 100 – would become known as the Intellectual Quotient. In the 1930s, this old quotient method would be replaced by standard scores, which eliminated several problems with Binet’s original equation. But the term IQ would remain nonetheless and is still widely used today when referring to someone’s intellectual ability or intelligence. General Intelligence, can be thought of as the raw processing power of the brain. IQ is simply a score which attempts to describe one’s mental capability based on a series of tests and examinations which are believe to represent the core components of intellectual ability. Although there are many types of intelligence, the key components are: (1) crystallized intelligence (Gc); and (2) fluid intelligence (Gf). Fluid intelligence can be further broken down into sub components including: (i) Processing Speed (Gs); (ii) Visualization (Gv) and (iii) short term and working memory (Gsm). As we will see, IQ and EQ are very different. IQ measures pure brain processing power, and does not tell us whether someone is kind, nasty, fearful, deviant or forgiving. IQ tells us whether someone has high brain capacity – not whether someone is likable or uses their brain power for good.

Many people are quite uncomfortable talking about IQ because of the fact that all are not created equal when it comes to brain power. Although the average level of general intelligence in most advanced countries is usually set at 100, is it known that IQ follows a near normal distribution which means that 50% of the population have an IQ greater than 100, while the other half have an IQ lower than 100. But this fact in itself, is not distressing. What makes some people uncomfortable about IQ is the fact that there is a positive correlation between IQ level and outcomes in life, but specifically successful life outcomes. For instance, people with high IQ, on average, will tend to make more money, live longer, have smarter offspring and in better health and are less likely to become incarcerated or even get divorced. The simple fact is that higher intelligence allows people to make better choices, which can positively impact life outcomes.

The term Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ) is much newer than its IQ counterpart.  Emotional Intelligence can be defined as the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and to label them appropriately, and to use this information behavior to guide thinking and behavior. Although EI was written about in the 1960s, the concept was popularized after Gardner’s publication Frames of Mind: the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In short, the theory on EQ was propagated by academics who were discontent with the literature on IQ. IQ and EQ are not only different concepts, but the concept of EQ was created in response to grievances with the concept of IQ. That is, several academics including Gardner have always struggled to accept that IQ or General Intelligence would be the over arching guiding variable of success for humans.

IQ and EQ: the truth is that higher IQ people will be able to see the shades of grey

The reality, is that EQ boils down to emotional awareness, judgment and general sensitivity. Studies have shown that people with higher IQs, on average, tend to be more socially intelligent. If people with higher IQs (on average) were socially awkward, then how does one explain the fact that higher IQ people are more successful in not only work, but relationships also? This is not to say that people with extremely high IQs may not find it hard to fit in socially. Indeed, any extreme deviation from the average my make ‘fitting in’ a tad more difficult. What I am saying however is that the law of averages predicts a positive correlation between above average intelligence and social ability and therefore EQ.

IQ and EQ: it sounds like they might be related? But people with high IQ may be able to detach themselves more effectively from the emotional side of a debate to make decisions based on objective criteria. This approach may of course be difficult to take for people who tend to be guided by emotions. In other words, higher IQ people may, on average, be as emotionally aware as anyone else, but may be better able to resist making decisions based on emotional or subjective criteria.

It occurs to me that debate should not be about IQ vs EQ. But rather IQ and EQ.

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