Is EQ a Placebo?

Last Updated Mar 11, 2009 2:48 AM EDT

On 23/2/09 Denise Mannix posted the following on this blog.

Hi Chris
I know you do not appear to be too partial to the Mayer-Salovey work on emotions. I would suggest that if you haven't already undertaken the individual MSCEIT and had the feedback session from a professional who is trained in it, that you may be more than surprised at the accuracy and efficacy of the work and the testing done in emotional intelligence by Mayer and Salovey. Importantly one of the things that Mayer and Salovey always reinforce is that EI is only a part of understanding an individual and should be incorporated with other tools which relate to how people work with others.
Kind regards
Denise Mannix
First let me say in reply that there is no doubt that the work that Mayer and Salovey have done in developing the concept of EQ has been critical to its acceptance in the management lexicon. On the other hand I believe they have taken several wrong turnings. But I also think the same of Goleman. I will deal with these issues over the next couple of weeks.

However this post does raise an even more matter when it states that that if I should take the MSCEIT and have the feedback session from a professional that I would be surprised at the accuracy and efficacy of the work and the testing done in EQ by Mayer and Salovey.

I have no doubt that if I did the MSCEIT and got feedback that I would be surprised by its accuracy and efficiency. Unfortunately even if I did this it would have no effect of demonstrating whether the MSCEIT or Mayer-Salovey's model is valid. What Denise is arguing is the post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy which is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event.

For example, it is estimated that at least 35 percent of the people who take a placebo are cured of their ailment. Yet no reputable medical scientists claims that placebos are effective in treating ailments, (although many alternative medical practitioners make such claims). Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs particularly in the area of personality psychology.