Emotional intelligence used as skill to build relationships


New book goes beyond hype

Emotional intelligence should be seen as a skill that can be developed to improve one's interpersonal relationships rather than as a measuring tool for evaluating success in life, argues a University of Toronto expert on emotion research.

"The idea that there is a quick and easy test for emotional intelligence and that a high score on such a test will predict life success has not been established," says Keith Oatley, author of Emotions: A Brief History and a professor in human development and applied psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of U of T. "This is the kind of idea that people get excited by but that connection hasn't been proven."

In his book, released this month by Blackwell Publishing, Oatley goes beyond the hype of emotional intelligence tests and explains that emotional skills can be developed to enhance a person's relationships with others. Emotional intelligence is defined as a set of skills that enable individuals to understand their own and other people's emotions so they can manage their lives and their relationships, he says.

Pointing to the work of Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer, researchers who proposed the concept of emotional intelligence 15 years ago, he says people can develop their emotional intelligence by recognizing other people's emotions, using emotions to facilitate thought, understanding emotions and managing emotions.

Oatley's book also details the history of emotions across different cultures and their impact on society and individuals. He explores the idea that emotions are not just experienced by the individual but form the foundation of culture. "Emotions provide the very basis of relationships but the new and important idea is that emotions mediate relationships and this is something in the field of emotion research that is beginning to be realized," he says.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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