Monday, 10 September 2012

A bit of a 'hmm' for Emotional Intelligence

I am sure all of you know what IQ is: hopefully you have all also heard of EQ. This is our measure of emotional intelligence - EI - capacity (potential) which, along with our current levels of skill (competence) is what gets measured in an EI test, and gives us an EQ score. EI is "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" (Mayer, Salovey & Brackett, 2004, p. 1961).

The most popular forms of EI assessments are Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), Goleman's Model and the Bar-On model.

However, a number of researchers think that EQ results are not reliable enough for workplace use yet, so we shouldn't be using EQ as a selection or professional development tool or relying on the results of such tests. Among those raising concerns is Professor Wildermuth from the US Centre for Applied Cognitive Studies, who says that she has "not seen a consensus on the validity of the instruments" or agreement on what EQ is defined as. Because of that, she thinks that EI test results can be "somewhat dangerous" (HR Daily, 2012).

Instead, Professor Wildermuth suggests HR professionals focus on candidate EI ability not traits, saying "traits are unlikely to be changed in adult years [and] Trying to transform somebody who is more challenging [into] a person who is more agreeable is probably an exercise in futility" (HR Daily, 2012). Haven't we all run into our own traits resurfacing at the least convenient and most telling moments!

Professor Wildermuth feels EQ testing can be too subjective, rely on the context of culture and belief, and, because most of the tests are self-reported, suspects that results are easy to fake; that we wear our 'best' persona when answering.

Some academics believe that competencies should be measured by others, avoiding self-report tests altogether. Professor Wildermuth says "One argument for that is that we are terrible at assessing our own competencies, [and] that our assessments... correlate weakly with assessments made by others", citing research where 94% of US college professors think their work is "above average" and the bottom quartile of college students think they are actually above average. "So if we're measuring emotional intelligence specifically, is it reasonable for us to expect somebody who is low in emotional intelligence to be emotionally aware [of their] weakness? The person who is the lowest in emotional intelligence is unlikely to be accurate in the test and therefore the results are not going to be right" (HR Daily, 2012).



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