Why It’s Hard to Measure Emotional Intelligence

17.06.2016 |

Episode #10 of the course Boost your emotional intelligence by Marcelle Santos

Illustration:Alberto Montt

 

You’ve made it to our final episode! At this point, you must be eager to discover how emotionally intelligent you are. But measuring your EQ isn’t as simple as measuring your height or your weight. There are EQ tests you can take, but they have certain limitations.

 

The problem with EQ tests

What’s the most ’emotionally intelligent’ way to comfort a friend? It depends — on the situation and on the friend. Yet most EQ tests work with right/wrong answers to generic situations.

Most importantly, they work with answers you give about who you are and how you behave. But are you the best person to assess your personality and emotional intelligence?

Yes and no. Studies show that we’re good at judging certain traits but not so great at judging others. Most of us can accurately assess our levels of happiness, anxiety, and self-esteem, for example, but when it comes to evaluating our intelligence, creativity, and interestingness, others do a better job than we do (Vazire, 2010).

In spite of that, traditional EQ tests rely only on self-reporting. As a result, they measure not how emotionally intelligent you are, but how emotionally intelligent you think you are.

 

Finding truth in consensus

An accurate measure of your emotional intelligence should, therefore, consider considering not just how you see yourself (your identity), but also how others see you (your reputation).

Your identity is an idealized self-image that guides your behavior. Your reputation is the social consensus about how you actually behave. Robert Hogan, a pioneer in psychological testing, believes that the only way to accurately assess someone’s personality is to study their reputation.

Journalist James Surowiecki, author of the book Wisdom of Crowds, agrees that there’s truth behind collective evaluations. According to him, a diverse group of independently deciding individuals, can make better assessments than single individuals and even experts.

 

The takeaway for measuring emotional intelligence

Want to know how empathic, motivated, or self-aware you are? Examine yourself — but make sure you get other perspectives, too.

Consider getting feedback from people from different social circles and areas of your life. When you ask for feedback, focus on specific actions and behavior (ask, “Do I follow through with the things I set out to do?” and not “Am I motivated?”).

If you want to go one step further, consider creating an online survey and sharing it with friends, relatives, and teammates. This is an idea taken from G. Richard Shell’sSpringboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success. In this book, the business professor encourages people to seek input from their social network in order to discover (or validate) their strengths.

Whichever path you choose for measuring and increasing your emotional intelligence, remember to be kind to yourself.

We hope you enjoyed this course.

 

This course was written by Marcelle Santos, with suggestions from Sonia Codreanu.

 

Recommended book

“The Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki

 

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