Emotional Intelligence vs. IQ

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Intelligence quotient is a well studied psychological construct that has been researched for over 100 years. We know so much about IQ, but we know less about another important form of intelligence, namely, emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman popularized the term with his seminal book fittingly titled “Emotional Intelligence” published in 1995. Our culture is excellent at educating the mind-centered skills that are related to IQ. Historically, our schools have focused on teaching academic subject matter like math and reading, but we’ve often neglected the skills that are heart-centered and related to emotional intelligence. As Aristotle noted over 2300 years ago, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

Let’s take a look at the differences between IQ and emotional intelligence, and explore what can be gained from fostering emotional intelligence in our classrooms alongside the traditionally cultivated forms of cognitive intelligence.

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The benefits of the IQ abilities are well known and relatively obvious. They help you achieve practical goals through linear thinking and execution. The benefits of the emotional intelligence capabilities are less well known and more difficult to measure because they are holistic skills that can’t be easily quantified. However, explicitly addressing emotional intelligence in the classroom through a social emotional learning program helps students develop valuable life skills, for example:

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Emotional and cognitive intelligence are both necessary ingredients to living a wise life. These two different forms of intelligence complement and support each other. Without emotional intelligence, cognitive intelligence becomes rigid, cold and lacks feeling. Without cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence becomes undiscerning and lacks direction. You can think of these two types of intelligence like a ship, where emotional intelligence is the sail and cognitive intelligence is the wheel. Emotional intelligence provides the motivation for moving forward and cognitive intelligence keeps the ship on track.

Despite the fact that it’s not easy to quantify emotional intelligence, we can see that it is  correlated with positive outcomes especially when taught in the classroom. Some of the benefits that have been found when emotional intelligence is taught in the classroom include:

  • A 60% decrease in suspension rates school wide
  • An 11% improvement in test scores
  • A decrease in drug use, conduct problems and emotional distress

Both emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence are necessary skills to have and ones that should be developed in our classrooms. Until recently we’ve put a strong emphasis on cognitive abilities but have not prioritized emotional intelligence, despite research showing that it is beneficial in a myriad of ways. If you’re interested in teaching emotional intelligence competencies in your classroom, Move This World can help. Head over to our website and take a look at our social emotional learning program to learn more.


Want to learn more about developing emotional intelligence within your students?