The Intelligence of Emotional Intelligence

Last Updated Jul 15, 2011 2:07 AM EDT

One of the great things about the Internet is that you occasionally receive, out of the blue, an amazing email. This recently happened to me:

Hi Chris,

The coverage of your blog is so comprehensive and creative that it's turned many of us at into regular followers. We recently published a post, "10 Interesting Facts about IQ Tests" that we hope you and your readers might also find interesting. If you have the time to consider it, we'd appreciate any mention or feature of it on your blog. Let us know if you have any questions.

Roxanne McAnn
What can I do but write a critique of Roxanne's post. Let me start by saying I am unable to pass comment about how much breastfeeding increases IQ. On behalf of my grandson who is still being breastfed 9 months on, I certainly hope so.

My general take on IQ tests is that they try to measure a person's genetic level of intelligence. Typically when you participate in a psychographic profiling session you do a series of IQ tests that try to measure your critical reasoning combined with verbal and numerical abilities. When I first learned about IQ tests, I was taught that the mean score was 100 and the standard deviation was 15 so 95% of the population scored between 70 and 130. However when I used to send candidates for testing the results were in terms of percentages. So a triple one meant you were in the top 1% for all three qualities. Perhaps the most powerful argument for IQ tests is that of all the testing done by psychologists, IQ scores are the most likely to be valid and reliable. IQ tests do measure what they are meant to measure, and the results to stay constant over time. I had an interesting confirmation of the reliability of tests when one employee who I tested showed me the results of tests he had done 25 years earlier. The scores were within 1% of each other for all three vectors. The reliability of IQ tests argues against Roxanne's claims that IQ results are affected by environmental factors and are potentially fallible.

On the other hand, Roxanne's post does raise the interesting issue of how much IQ determines later success in life. The EQ mantra is that IQ gets you the job and EQ gets you promoted. I agree with this. The American Psychological Association's report "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns" claims that IQ explains 29% of the variance and other individual characteristics such as interpersonal skills, aspects of personality etc. are probably of equal or greater importance. The problem is that there are no equally reliable instruments to measure them. People can and do fake personality tests. They can do the same with emotional intelligence tests. Most Emotional Intelligence tests are self-assessing and generally because they require a forced response mean that the results cannot be used to compare the individual to the rest of the population.

I do not use an emotional intelligence test for that reason in my workshops. Instead I consider that EQ is a skill and not an intelligence. My belief is that can definitely improve a person's EQ by teaching him or her a methodology to analyse temperament.

  • Robert Gerrish

    Robert Gerrish is a coach, author and professional speaker and the founder of Flying Solo (, the Australian online community for solo business owners.