EQ vs. EI: Which Emotional Intelligence Term is Correct?

Emotional IntelligenceAs both a researcher and practitioner of Emotional Intelligence, the inconsistency in terms used to describe this collection of social skills has been a long-time pet peeve.  I am a fan and advocate for using 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 one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions and use that information to guide one’s thinking and action.

Emotional Intelligence helps us express our emotions, develop and maintain relationships, cope with challenges, and make effective decisions.  It has also been proven to be a key driver of job performance, effective leadership, success in life, and our overall well-being – those are pretty lofty attributes!

Emotional Intelligence is different than our IQ and our 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 first introduced the term “Emotional Intelligence” in several scientific articles.  In —1995, Dr. Daniel Goleman expanded on Salovey and Mayer’s work which lead to his groundbreaking book “Emotional Intelligence”, and brought the term to 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 ECI/ESCI, Genos in Australia, 6 Seconds EI Model, and Talent Smart’s EQ Appraisal.  Just in the assessment names, there are inconsistencies in the terms.  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 uses EQ primarily.

EQ and EI have been used interchangeably for the past 30 years to describe Emotional Intelligence, and it causes confusion. 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.

Contact me today to discuss how I can help you improve Emotional Intelligence at both the individual and organizational levels at www.drshawnandrews.com.