As both a researcher and practitioner of emotional intelligence, the inconsistency in terms has been a long-time pet peeve. I believe that we should be using the term EQ, not EI, and here’s why.
First let’s define emotional intelligence. It’s a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor our own and other’s feelings and emotions, and use that information to guide our thinking and action. EQ helps us express our emotions, develop and maintain relationships, cope with challenges, and make effective decisions. It has also been shown to be a key driver and predictor of job performance, effectiveness in leadership and in life, and impacts our overall well-being.
EQ is different than IQ and personality. These 3 together make up who we are, how we express ourselves, and govern our tendencies, characteristics, and preferences.
The abbreviation IQ was coined by the German psychologist William Stern, his term for a scoring method for intelligence tests he advocated in a 1912 book. An intelligence quotient (IQ) is a score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to assess human intelligence. We’ve been using the term IQ consistently to describe intellectual intelligence for over a century. We don’t call it “II”, we call it “IQ” as a reference to the standardized score.
Now, let’s look at emotional intelligence. In 1985, Dr. Reuven Bar-On coined the term EQ for emotional quotient, based on the standardized score, just like IQ. In 1990, Drs. Salovey and Mayer expanded Bar-On’s work and introduced the term “Emotional Intelligence” in several scientific articles. In 1995, Dr. Daniel Goleman expanded on Salovey and Mayer’s work which led to his book, “Emotional Intelligence”, and brought the term to the mainstream.
Today, there are 6 major emotional intelligence instruments or assessments. There’s Multi-Health Systems EQ-i 2.0, Mayer-Salovey-Caruso’s MSCEIT, Goleman and Hay Group’s ESCI, Six Seconds SEI, Genos International EI Inventory, and Talent Smart’s EQ Appraisal . As you can see, there are inconsistencies in terms for the names of these assessments. Further, the terms EI and EQ are used interchangeably by these companies in their training, communications and literature. For example, Multi-Health Systems uses EI and EQ about equally, Hay group uses EI primarily, and Talent Smart and Six Seconds uses EQ primarily.
Both terms have been used interchangeably for the past 30 years to describe emotional intelligence—and it causes confusion for the every day person. For such an important and heavily researched topic, we need consistency from researchers, practitioners, and the community in the term we use to describe it. We don’t call intellectual intelligence “II”, so why would we call emotional intelligence “EI”? It doesn’t make sense. In addition, the standardized quotient scores for both our intellectual and emotional intelligence are called IQ and EQ, respectively.
Therefore, for consistency in describing our two types of intelligence, and for consistency in standardized quotient scores, let’s use the term EQ moving forward in any references to the all important set of social skills we call emotional intelligence.
To learn more, go to my website at drshawnandrews.com.