Emotional intelligence according to Mayer, DiPaolo & Salovey (1990)

Emotional intelligence according to Mayer, DiPaolo & Salovey (1990)

Emotional Intelligence



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Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence according to Mayer, DiPaolo & Salovey (1990) is defined as the ability to recognize, organize and evaluate emotions. Some researchers claim that emotional intelligence is developed over time, but others claim that it is a characteristic that is inborn. Since the early 90s, Salovey and Meyer are the major researchers on emotional intelligence. They define it as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”. These two researchers proposed a model explaining the four factors of emotional intelligence that include; insight of emotions, the ability of one to reason depending on emotions, understanding emotions and management of emotions.

The source of human happiness and fulfilment has been a subject of debate among philosophers for decades now without the realization of a satisfactory answer. Advances in psychology have given hopes for a scientific description of emotional intelligence. Recently, there has been a proposition by psychologists that understanding of ones emotions and those of others is the key to living a fulfilling life. Those who are aware of their emotions and those of others tend to be wise in solving problems in comparison to those who are termed as “emotionally illiterate” whose lives are marked with frustrations, misunderstandings and failure of relationships. A scientific understanding of emotional intelligence is the first step towards living a more fulfilling life.

Intelligence is the capability to learn from experience or the positive response to new experiences while emotion is a state of mind that has to do with feelings arousal. Having the understanding of intelligence and emotion, emotional intelligence can then be suitably defined as the degree to which an individual either successfully or unsuccessfully applies judgement to a situation by determining the emotional responses to that situation.

The current conceptions of emotional intelligence as discussed by Mayer, DiPaolo & Salovey (1990) have strengths as well as weaknesses. On a positive note, emotional intelligence has descriptive attributes that include; self awareness, compassion as well as coping skills. Educators are particularly happy with this concept of emotional intelligence because they can use it to tackle social issues like drug abuse, violence and social alienation that mostly affect students. Alternatively there is a negative side which has made it difficult conceptualize and assess emotional intelligence. The differentiation of emotional intelligence from emotions, intelligence and personality has caused serious theoretical and empirical difficulties. (Emmerling & Goleman, 2003).

In business as explored by Mayer & Caruso (2002), managers are working towards understanding their emotions as well as those of their employees in making of sound decisions now that emotional intelligence has become very popular. This is important for effective management and the realization of goals and visions set by the company. If the manager is able to fully understand the feelings of employees and vice versa then a good relationship will be developed that will affect the business positively.

Critical thinking offers a relation between intelligence and emotions in a person who is termed as “emotionally intelligent”. Critical thinking is responsible for the combination of thought and emotions in the making of sound judgement. It helps one to recognize how reasoning works and how reasoning can be used to command what we feel. Through critical thinking, one can assess every situation no matter how complex in order to come up with decisions that are sound that do not just involve feelings, but also thoughts and logic (Brown, 2003).

Most psychologists assert that when an individual is faced with a difficult situation, emotions are bound to come before rational thinking. The emotional mind acts faster than the rational mind without stopping for even a moment to assess the situation. According to Brown (2003) and Mayer & Caruso (2002), most mistakes done by people are as a result of feelings that come prior to thought. The more intense feelings are, the more ineffective the rational mind will be and this is what leads to emotional mistakes done by most individuals who when faced with a difficult situation make decisions as soon as they see the problem.

Conclusively, if one is interested in developing rationality in order to live a more fulfilling life, then it is important to understand the power and the roles played by emotions and thoughts. To do this one needs to understand their own emotions in order to become self-aware and those of others. The most significant step is coming to terms with the truths about the human mind so as to take charge of the human mind. The understanding that emotions and intelligence are inextricably bound will aid in taking charge of thinking underlying emotions so as to make sound judgements.


Emmerling, R. & Goleman, D. (2003). Emotional Intelligence: Issues and Common Misunderstandings. Issues and Recent Developments in Emotional Intelligence.

Mayer, J., DiPaolo, M. & Salovey, P. (1990). Perceiving affective content in ambiguous visual stimuli: A component of emotional intelligence. Journal of Personality Assessment, 54, 772-781.

Mayer, J. & Caruso, D. (2002). The Effective Leader: Understanding and Applying Emotional Intelligence. Ivey Business Journal.

Brown, R. (2003). Emotions and Behaviour: Exercises in Emotional Intelligence. Journal of Management Education. 27, 122-134.