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March 23rd, 2010
11:00 AM ET

Are You Smart? Forget about IQ, what's your EQ?

Editor's Note: Think you're smart? That depends on what it means to be smart. And how do you become smart – if you're not there yet? This week, in our special series "Are You Smart?" our Alina Cho takes an in-depth look at all aspects of intelligence. Tomorrow on American Morning, colleges are now accepting YouTube videos instead of written essays from applicants, leaving some to wonder if this is an accurate way to measure a student's worth.

By Alina Cho, CNN

(CNN) – We've all heard about IQ: your intelligence quotient. What about EQ: your emotional quotient?

A lot of smart minds are calling emotional intelligence the “other smart.” It’s supposedly so important to success that kids are being taught in schools how to be emotionally smart.

It’s part of the curriculum at Clarendon Hills Middle School near Chicago, where students participate in an exercise in boosting self-esteem.

"It's a different kind of enjoyment than a subject, it's more like a spirit-lifter and it makes you feel good inside," says Kevin, a student.

But what does that have to do with being smart?

“I think it's a horrible idea,” says Ashley Merryman, author of "Nurtureshock." “Do you get graded then for being angry? What does that mean in terms of real life?"

"Emotional intelligence is a different way of being smart and one of the things that we found in research is that children who manage themselves, who can set goals, who are good problem solvers, do better in life," says Roger Weissberg.

Weissberg is a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois and the man behind the groundbreaking research on which the best-selling book "Emotional Intelligence" is based.

The concept: EQ is just as important as IQ.

Weissberg says kids who get good social and emotional training score 10-to-11 percent better on tests than kids who don't.

“They can overcome obstacles when they reach them. Some of this involves academic tenacity, teaching kids self-discipline and self-control.”

Research also shows great leaders tend to be funny and the best doctors are empathetic. But can emotional intelligence be taught? Should it be?

“You're not telling me that you can't learn how to behave with your peers? I think it also discounts the importance of parents' influence,” says Merryman. “I don't think we need a class for this.”

Others argue that getting along is just as important as getting good grades and that the really smart thrive at both.

"This is not academics versus social and emotional development. That's a false choice,” says Weissberg. “This is teaching kids to be socially and emotionally and academically skilled."

Author Daniel Pink says logical thinking – being "book smart" – still matters. But he says it matters less these days because the types of jobs that require linear thinking can be outsourced – even to a computer.

So what's more valuable are the abilities that are harder to outsource: empathy, big picture thinking, creativity.

So if being smart is a means to an end – getting a good job – there is an argument to be made that emotional intelligence does count.


Filed under: Are You Smart?
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Perplexed

    Another step on the path to creating mindless servants. Reminds me of a story where a man helped his daughter study for a math test. She tried and tried, but barely grasped it. She took the test and got an "A". The dad wondered how that was possible and looked at the test to determine that she had made many mistakes. When he confronted the teacher, the teacher replied that the grade was not for her understanding of the problems, but how she FELT about them. High self-esteem and low intelligence, doesn't bode well for our future.

    March 26, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  2. Brad Anderson

    This is silly!! Creating classes to model good social behavior by pretending to do art. Why not make more art? Kids learn to solve problems creatively, work individually and in teams, improve as critical thinkers and build self confidence by doing something of substance.....no wait....forget it. They can just pretend and take a test to see if it works. The arts save lives. Make them a stronger part of school curriculum and we all will be better off.

    March 24, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  3. Ginny Deerin, CEO, WINGS for kids, Charleston, S.C.

    Research by Dr. Weissberg and other respected sources (see the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) makes it clear that social and emotional skills can be taught, and children who develop them are more likely to find success and happiness. As he says, it's a false choice to pit academic intelligence vs social/emotional intelligence. Thanks to CNN and Alina Cho for exploring the significance of the latest brain research that has educators rethinking narrow views of intelligence.

    March 24, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  4. Paul

    I'm not sure what that piece had to do with intelligence. It had to do with college admission policy expanding to include video content.

    Yes, this is novel and interesting and it gives you guys free video content, but all it shows in terms of intelligence is that students are perhaps as smart as monkeys. Monkeys learn that if they press a button, they might get a banana; college applicants learn that if they press Record, they might get a college admission.

    March 24, 2010 at 7:36 am |
  5. Angela Hess

    I have always found the EQ idea to be ridiculous. People with a truly high sensitivity to other people's emotions do NOT have an easier time in this world. Imagine having a conversation with someone else in which you have no clue about their true reaction, but you imagine them to be enthralled with your brilliance and charm. Now imagine another screnario where you have that same conversation with ESP, where you are exquisitely aware of each time their attention wanders, they have a not so positive thought about your words or appearance, etc. In which situation are you likely to perform at your best?

    Being able to manipulate other people, like a con man or a serial killer, or even a good salesman (LOL) is a useful skill, but being genuinely aware of and empathetic to other people's emotions can often be a hindrance, not a help.

    I always think of this in terms of a few recent political figures, HW Bush, Clinton, Gore, and GWBush. To my understanding – the two people in that group with the highest genuine EQ were HW Bush and Gore, 'the two losers'. The two people who were able to insulate themselves from criticism and live lives unaffected by other people's feelings, Clinton and GWBush, were much more successful. And yes, I know Bill Clinton is largely seen as having high EQ. Sure he came across as empathetic, but one look at his personal life makes his true ability to empathize pretty clear.

    Furthermore, this whole concept that with computers, book knowledge becomes less important is equally absurd, if not more so. Without a grounding in basic facts and figures, how can one be creative or analyze 'the big picture'?

    It is true that we all have google and wikipedia at our fingertips, and it makes it easy to think we no longer need to memorize or recall information, but this simply slows us down. We spend time looking up the same facts and figures repeatedly, and are not left with the time for the further analysis, the indepth analysis that is crucially needed.

    March 24, 2010 at 4:30 am |
  6. A. Smith, Oregon

    Is your IQ high enough to think for yourself?

    New Harris Poll Data released on What Republican's think of President Obama: Viewer Warning, this is Scary!

    57% of All Republicans polled Believe President Obama is a Muslim!
    (President Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle are Christians)

    45% of All Republicans polled believe President Obama was not born in the United States.
    (President Obama was born in Hawaii, John McCain however was born in Panama City, Panama on a military base!)

    38% of All Republicans polled Believe President Obama is doing many of the things that Hitler did.
    (How twisted and confused can you possible get?)

    24% of All Republicans polled Believe President Obama may be the Antichrist.
    (Apparently even more twisted and confused than the Hitler question!)

    4 Republicans out of 10 thinks President Obama is following in the footsteps of Adolph Hitler in his actions!

    1 Republican in FOUR thinks President Obama might be the Antichrist!

    Perhaps with the new Health Care bill, Republicans can now afford their mental health medication they are entirely missing).

    March 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  7. Michael Ferguson

    The concept of emotional intelligence as a measure as important as IQ is an example of the triumph of marketing appeal over substance. Clearly IQ -> academic achievement -> Good Job is far from a complete description of the process. However, there is virtually no evidence that EQ contributes to greater predictive success. Furthermore, while the charge that IQ tests are culturally biased is marginally valid for most tests, it is the single largest problem with EQ tests. EQ is almost completely contextual. The EQ that is effective at the football game will most likely be useless at a Mensa convention and vice versa.

    March 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  8. Jyothi

    I think emotional level plays an important role in making intellectual smartness to work. We have seen people who were emotionally affected in thier personal lives accomplishing high goals in education and career.

    March 23, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  9. Eamilius

    I've taken an "EQ" test, though quite an awful long time and I measured well on it but I don't approve of such a test. Disposition characteristics, self-fulfilling prophecies, stereotypyes, dissonance, etc are measued in complacent ways. Is not like ou study for an exam or test in order to be in your memory and later on, can recalled. This test is more like a measurement of how well or best suited you can cope with emotional discreprenacies. And we all know socialization, just to name a few, has a major impact on emotional learning when we grow older and longer.

    This test is just like a fun test so you can see, is more entertainment than a true measure of ones emotions or tharsas. And since is pre determined, our actions and answers will depend greatly on how we will expect or think to respond, rather than what how we feel or not.

    March 23, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  10. T K Oester

    I introduced emotional quotient at the first US China conference on Education in Beijing back in 1997. The result was that the Chinese National government eventually developed national policy for lifelong learning and distance learning. It is way pass time that the US move away from teaching to the test and work on students developing application skills.

    March 23, 2010 at 11:16 am |