Emotional Intelligence (EI)

What is emotional intelligence? An evolving definition….

Emotions are sources of information, and at the most basic level emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to use this information in a smart way. Informed by research from educational psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology and anthropology, the definition and understanding of EI concepts has become more nuanced in recent years.

Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer, early pioneers in the field, define EI “as the ability to recognize the meaning of emotions and their relationships and to use them as a basis in reasoning and problem solving. It further involves using emotions to enhance cognitive activities.”1 Six Seconds, an international educational network, defines EI as the ability to effectively blend thoughts and feelings in order to make optimal decisions. For the purposes of my work, I define EI as the ability to effectively blend cognitive and emotional information in order to make better decisions taking into account self, others and context and the ability to create and sustain more mutually respectful relationships.

I created An Integrated Model of EI in 2014. This model provides a three part theoretical framework to organize and categorize the concepts, tools and outcomes of approaching the world with EI.

Emotional intelligence is both the foundation and the outcome of effective social and emotional learning (SEL). In order to effectively teach emotional intelligence, a teacher must develop and embody these skills. The outcome of effectively teaching SEL is increased EI on the part of the students and community.

I like to think of the relationship between EI and SEL like a sandwich. The bread slices on top and bottom of the sandwich represent emotional intelligence. The cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado and sprouts in the middle are the social and emotional learning curricula and strategies.

The Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) advocates a five part development model of social and emotional learning: Self Awareness, Social Awareness, Self Management, Social Management and Responsible Decision Making. CASEL identifies “select SEL curricula” that are researched based and have been proven to be effective. For more info visit CASEL..

 1  Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., Caruso, D. R., & Sitarenios, G. (2001).         Emotional intelligence as a standard intelligence.