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Intelligence – Why
Can Matter More Than IQ
Daniel Goleman Bloomsbury
publishing – 2004
The book starts by quoting a
challenge laid down by
Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics:
can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right
person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose,
the right way – this is not easy.
that challenge laid down over 2000 years ago Daniel
Goleman has written an important book on the human psyche and how
influence the path of their lives by attention to emotions. Goleman is
science writer who says he was dramatically influenced in 1990 by the
work of two
psychologists (John Mayer now at University of New Hampshire and Peter
at Yale) who first formulated the concept they called “emotional
Goleman set about a major study of research publications in psychology,
neurology and childhood development. He published the first edition of Emotional
Intelligence in 1996. It became a bestseller and has been
revised several times.
quite a few studies
in the past 20 years have now shown,
the brain does not have the fixed architecture, previously assumed. New
for brain imaging have revealed how the brain’s intricate mass of
us to think, feel, imagine and dream. We also know that while each
brain has a
certain structure at birth – a genetic inheritance – that
structure can change
drastically depending on all the inputs during life’s journey.
Most of those
inputs have a strong emotional component.
It is surprising that “feeling” has been left out of much
the scientific research on psychology, but is now being clearly
there are significant physiological changes with rising emotions:
increase in blood flow to
the hands, increased heart rate and an adrenaline rush.
blood to the large
skeletal muscles, the face goes blank as blood drains away, there is a
hormones to establish flight or freeze.
– increased brain centre
activity, the body goes into a general rest condition.
general relaxed state of
body and calm contentment.
– drop in energy and
enthusiasm for life’s activities.
the earliest times
the emotions have played an
important part in the survival of mammals. The physiological changes
different emotions invoke, enabled animals to respond in an appropriate
to deal with situations that they faced. This continues in humans
although the responses may be tempered by cultural background; for
some African cultures the loss of a loved one might be marked by loud
whereas Anglo-Saxons would tend to go into solitary silent grieving.
by evolution over many millions of
years in an ever-changing climate of dangers, hunger and deep
the future. These factors have influenced the growth of the brain. The
primitive brain of early animal species (and of some species today) is
stem surrounding the top of the spinal cord. This essentially acts as a
system keeping all the bodily functions running. It is not a thinking
but merely responds to emotional inputs – perhaps telling it of
danger and the
need to run to freeze.
evolved, the amygdala - that
of the brain (named, because of its structure, after Greek word for
on the primitive base element of the brain. The combined basic
the amygdala is sometimes referred to as the limbic system. It is
be the fast response zone that can trigger action if one of the primary
emotions, such as: anger, fear, happiness or others is encountered
showed the development of further brain
material known as the neocortex. This is
the thinking zone – the seat of feelings about ideas, empathy,
imagining, pleasure and other feelings. It also is the zone in which
analysis of ideas or concepts can take place; the so-called cognitive
of the brain
mammals indicate that there was a major
development of the neocortex about 100 million years ago and as the
species developed from the early primates a much larger neocortex
formed. This has
been the source of the human talent for planning and the eventual
sprouted from and extended the scope of
the limbic system (centred on the amygdala) it is clearly to be
emotions can and will influence the centres of thought. Goleman points
psychologists have been slow to recognise this. In the past many have
considered intellectual thought processes and emotions as two distinct
characteristics or influences on human behaviour. The evidence now
the two are actually intimately connected and we must accept Emotional
Intelligence as a primary function of behaviour.
our brain has been shaped
over the past
50,000 generations. Evolution is very slow and although civilisation
rapidly, the structure of the human brain has been much slower to
have the neocortex with its relative slow, carefully thought out,
the amygdala, with its emotional memory and empathy, ready to react at
are moments when
impulsive feelings are triggered by
some sensory input – a smell, a sight, a verbal remark –
rational thought and the amygdala sends signals to all parts of
brain, which in turn mobilises bodily functions – face muscles,
etc. These sudden flare-ups often lead people to say “I
don’t know what came
stores memories for many years; even
from days as a baby with no language ability. At birth the amygdala is
formed, whilst the hippocampus and the neocortex are only partly
baby stores ‘wordless’ blueprints for emotional life; happy
punishment or rude, brutal, words are stored as memories that may be
in later life by some sound, smell, touch or feeling.
baby has limited
control over the responses to its
feelings, however later in life the pre-frontal cortex (the parts of
neocortex just behind the forehead) develop and act as a
overriding many of the emotional response signals sent out by the
Thus for animals a danger signal can be logically analysed to decide
fight, run or hide. The same applies to humans with additional
possibilities such as persuasion, placate an adversary, put on a
contemptuous or some other action. We often say we ‘mull
over’ a situation – an
indication that the prefrontal cortex is busy!
linking the prefrontal
cortex and the amygdala
is the critical doorway between thought and emotion. People who have
cut-off by surgery or have it degraded (as sometimes happens in
the likes and dislikes of a lifetime. The stimulus for emotional
response to a
friend or a pet is lost. They have forgotten the meaning of love; in
their whole decision-making process is impaired. All
of life’s decisions are based on the
interaction of the two parts of the brain – the rational and the
intelligence tests were developed and the IQ
was considered as a fixed marker of the genetically inherited
intelligence of a
person. Since then it has been recognised that IQ is only one form of
intelligence. The ability to motivate oneself, to control impulses, to
one’s moods, to hope, to empathise and form social networks are
of human intelligence necessary for a well lived life. These other
all related to the emotional function of the brain. Thus, to
them effectively was called “Emotional Intelligence” by
Peter Salovey and John
D Mayer in their book Emotional Intelligence,
Cognition and Personality in 1990.
main domains of emotional
Knowing one’s own emotions –
as they happen.
Managing emotions – capacity to sooth
to shake off rampant anxiety, gloom, instability and the emotional
Motivating oneself – marshalling emotions in
service of a goal, emotional self-control.
Recognising emotions in others – empathy
can lead to altruism.
Handling relationships – social competence.
of us live with a
mixture of IQ and Emotional
Intelligence. If we are self-aware we are conscious of both our moods
thoughts about our moods. This enables us to live in a contented,
manner and also to have a very positive influence on those around us.
people who utterly lack self-awareness. This is often caused by decline
prefrontal cortex resulting in dispassionate reasoning and difficulty
the simplest decision-making. It has been said that ‘gut
feeling’ is required
in life’s decision-making – where to live, what to eat, who
to marry, etc. etc.
Freud made clear,
much of emotional life is unconscious.
We may be in a bad mood from some past (possibly forgotten) slight, but
we examine it and become self-aware, it will continue to upset us.
goal in a good life
should not be to slavishly follow a
rational path, nor to simply indulge one’s passions, but a
balance between the
two. As Aristotle indicates in the quote at the beginning of the book,
required is appropriate emotion – proportionate to the
emotion is too suppressed one has a dull life; if too extreme life
can lead to
disastrous situations. ‘Road rage’ can
escalate to violence and even death. It has been claimed by some people
giving vent to anger and reviving old hurts can reduce anger. However
re-engaging with anger does little or nothing. It can actually pump up
emotional brain and trigger the physiological reactions throughout the
is often a major cause of continuing anxiety, reduced intellect and
feelings of enthusiasm,
confidence and zeal
stirs the prefrontal cortex and sets up the emotional drive leading to
in any endeavour. Sports people, actors, and indeed everybody can
that they perform better when they have feelings of hope and optimism.
many books have been written on the power of positive thinking.
is an emotion
that builds on self-awareness. It
depends on noting many clues from the other person, such as: tone of
shift in posture, facial expression and eloquence or silence. Infants
empathy almost right from birth – they respond to smiles and
expressions. The reading of emotions involves the amygdala–cortex
it requires enough calm to catch all the subtle signals communicated by
person.. Empathy is closely tied to moral judgements. We feel strong
when someone else is clearly unfairly treated and this often leads to
society there is a cultural
reserve (which differs
in different communities around the world) that restricts emotional
This reduces empathy and it is part of the aim of Emotional
manage that reserve, read people’s feelings and act in a positive
grow it is commonly observed that
girls play in small intimate groups usually with minimal hostility,
play in larger groups emphasising competition. This leads to the
finding that girls are usually more adapt, than boys, at reading the
of others. Thus in later-life partnerships, it is frequently the case
woman sees her role as an ‘emotional manager’ and may
browbeat her partner into
seeing himself as a victim. At the same time a man often fails to
partner’s feelings and does not acknowledge the love and respect
that is a deep
refers to the
many studies on the interaction
between emotions and bodily health. He outlines the work which has
the communication that takes place between the central nervous system
immune system. The immune system depends on specific cells travelling
parts of the body. These cells, the immune cells, are programmed to
foreign cells and to destroy these, whilst ignoring normal body cells.
been shown that the hormones which may be released under extreme
as anger or grief, can surge through the body and inhibit the
the immune cell function.
are examples of
emotions affecting health, such as
someone who is very scared about having an operation getting an
flow and excessive post-operative bleeding. Some surgeons will delay an
if a patient is excessively anxious. Long periods of sadness, anxiety
tension certainly lead to poor health. A link has been observed between
and disease due to a rise in stress hormones. It has also been shown
with stress in their lives have a higher probability of catching a
than others of a cheerful, optimistic, disposition. Depression can lead
of appetite and lethargy and other medical problems. Isolation is not
comforting feeling of another person to share private thoughts inhibits
activity, lowering the neurochemicals that trigger biological stress.
optimism are good for health!
schools developing in USA
intelligence is being taught, either as a separate standalone subject
part of the curriculum and built into all subjects. For example in one
Haven School each child is asked first thing in the morning to say how
feeling and all the other children are encouraged to try and cheer up
are going through a sad or rough patch. In these schools they are
taught to be
assertive, rather than either angry or passive. They learn about
conflict resolution, negotiating compromise and how to read the
other people on their faces or by other indicators.
is much more in
this book that can’t be covered in a
brief summary. It has a big list of references and further reading for
the chapters. There are some people who might feel it places too much
on mechanical aspects of brain and body. But the reader is left with a
of hope for improved cooperation on this earth as more people recognise
importance of emotional intelligence.