In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Emotional Intelligence

  • Introduction

Management Emotional Intelligence
Myriam N. Bechtoldt
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 July 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 July 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0130


What makes emotional intelligence (EI) a bestselling topic among laypeople and a fascinating, yet at the same time controversial issue among psychological scientists? This article focuses upon these central questions. First, it relates EI to intelligence in general and the older concept of social intelligence, which had been of considerable interest to psychologists for decades before the term EI was invented. The article then proceeds with a discussion of different diagnostic approaches to measuring EI. It follows with a review of findings on the impact of EI job performance and health, as it is particularly in the work context that EI has achieved great popularity. It concludes, finally, with a brief review of empathy and perspective-taking, two constructs overlapping with but not congruent to EI.

Historical Development of EI

In 1995, Daniel Goleman, a former editor of Psychology Today and at that time working for the New York Times, published Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ (Goleman 1995). In this book he asserted that people’s life success would be more dependent on their emotional quotient (EQ) than on their intelligence quotient (IQ). Yet in the same year, the American Dialect Society declared EQ to be the “most useful word of the year.” Although the term EI had been generally unknown before the publication of Goleman’s bestseller, it is not Goleman but doctoral student Wayne Payne who is said to have coined it: in 1986, Payne completed his unpublished thesis entitled “A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence.” Four years later, in 1990, Peter Salovey and John Mayer published the first paper on EI in a scientific psychological journal. The paper received little recognition from the scientific community, however, until Goleman’s bestseller in 1995. Since then, the number of publications about EI has increased to thousands. Moreover, Mayer and Salovey’s conception of EI has become influential in the field of psychology. In their 1990 paper, they define EI as “a subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s own thinking and actions” (Salovey and Mayer 1990, p. 189). They explicitly describe EI as a subcomponent of social intelligence.

  • American Dialect Society. “Words of the Year.” In American Dialect Society.

    This learned society is dedicated to the study of the English language and declared “EQ” to be the “most useful” word of the year 1995.

  • Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ. New York: Bantam, 1995.

    Bestseller that introduced the concept of EI to the international nonacademic public.

  • Payne, Wayne L. “A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence; Self-Integration; Relating to Fear, Pain and Desire.” PhD diss., Union Graduate School, 1986.

    This work is considered the first to use the expression “emotional intelligence” in the academic realm.

  • Salovey, Peter, and John D. Mayer. “Emotional Intelligence.” Imagination, Cognition, and Personality 9 (1990): 185–211.

    DOI: 10.2190/DUGG-P24E-52WK-6CDG

    The paper introduced the concept of EI to the academic public.

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