Emotional intelligence can be described as: "A form of intelligence relating to the emotional side of life, such as the ability to manage one's own and others' emotions, to motivate oneself and restrain impulses, and to handle interpersonal relationships effectively." Its roots are explored in Charles Darwin's 1872 book "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals." According to the Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics (2005) emotional intelligence is a term that challenges the assumption IQ is the best predictor of professional success. Peter Salovey and John Mayer coined the term in 1990 to describe an "ability to monitor, discriminate, and use the information of one's own and others' emotions to guide thinking and action." They believed EI consisted of four elements - identifying, using, understanding and managing emotions.
However, it was psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman who popularized EI in his book "Emotional Intelligence" (1995), in which he states the concept has "a general capacity to motivate and persist at goals, to delay gratification, to regulate one's own emotions and those of others, to empathize, and to hope." The book sold more than five million copies in 30 languages and was on the New York Times best-seller list for 18 months.
In contrast to IQ (intelligence quotient) which proposes to be a measurement of innate potential that is relatively stable, proponents of EI like Jeanne Segal in "Raising Your Emotional Intelligence" (1997) believe that it is a continuously developing ability, competency or skill in which "the sky is the limit." It can be argued that developing one's EI is the key to succeeding in activities ranging from academia, business, marriage and mental and physical health. Sokolon discusses the measurement of EI, citing popular tests such as the Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS) or the modified Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). This measures the management and regulation of emotions by predetermined scoring. The main difficulty with this, Sokolon argues, is that unlike IQ tests that have definite right or wrong evaluations, EI criteria are open to criticism over the norms used. Other types of tests include a self-reporting questionnaire like the Emotional Quotient Inventory of Reuven Bar-On, Goleman's Emotional Competency Inventory and Nicola S. Schutte's Self-Report Inventory.
The Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics explores parallels with Aristotle's analysis of emotions in his "Nicomachean Ethics," which focuses on the development of character traits in which both reason and emotion are frequently repeated in order to choose the ethical action. Ethical theorists such as Martha Nussbaum stress the importance of emotions as an integral aspect of ethical judgment. Ethical development relies on learning how to check impulses and how to use emotional information to guide behavior. Critics believe that the concept of EI is vague, with no precision in attempts to clarify, define or measure it. However, supporters argue because emotions are involved in social decision-making, understanding them is an essential aspect to understanding political, economic, and other social behaviors.
In "Constructive Thinking: The Key to Emotional Intelligence" (1998) Seymour Epstein states: "Emotional Intelligence is an interesting concept because it draws attention to the limitations of IQ and the value of other kinds of abilities and attributes for success in living, including emotional adjustment. The idea of EI has evoked a great deal of interest, mainly due to the influence of Dan Goleman's best-selling book "Emotional Intelligence." Goleman makes a compelling case for EI being important for success in living and very likely more important than intellectual intelligence. "
Epstein sums up the importance of Goleman's findings: "The term emotional intelligence has caught the popular imagination and is no doubt here to stay…people appreciate the message in Goleman's book because they have long resented the excessive importance that has been attributed to IQ. Everyone knows of people with average IQs who are highly successful and of others with very high IQs — stars of their high school classes — who never made it in the real world. This raises the question of what the first group has that the other is missing. Goleman's answer is that it has emotional intelligence."