Research on emotional intelligence

The individuals develop intellectually through exercises and stimulus offered by the ..... These researchers describe the emotional intelligence as a set of skills that involve ... of two other emotional skills, which are the self-control and empathy.

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129937 - CP - 1 - 2006 - 1 - IT - COMENIUS - C 21

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Research on emotional intelligence

1. Emotional intelligence: What is it?


When we think about Emotional Intelligence (E.I.), we quickly associate it
to the emotions and to the expression of emotions. The emotional
intelligence is a type of intelligence that wraps the skills to understand
and to influence the emotions.

For Mayer and Salovey (1997), the emotional intelligence is the capacity of
realizing and expressing the emotion, assimilating it to the thought,
understanding and reasoning with it and being able to regulate it in you
and in the others". For other authors, the emotional intelligence is
associated to the perception and processing of emotions, since according to
our life experience, we think and act according to stimulated emotions
either by current or by past situations. So, to be emotionally intelligent
requires a high level of emotional skills, emotional training and capacity
of predicting behaviours. With the increase of the competences associated
to the emotional intelligence, the interpersonal relations are improved and
the personal and labour profits increase significantly.

There are two different kinds of intelligence: the rational one and the
emotional one. Our performance is determined not only by IQ (Intellectual
quotient), but mainly by emotional intelligence, sometimes, also named of
emotional quotient (EQ). In fact, the cognitive side cannot give its best
without the emotional intelligence. When both interact well, the emotional
intelligence increases, increasing also the intellectual capacity. This
concept put an end to the myth of which we should have put the reason on
top of the emotion: when in fact, we have to look for a balance between
them. According to Piaget, the role of affection is fundamental for the
intelligence. The affection is a source of energy that cognition uses for
its functioning. This author explains this process by saying that
"affection would be like petrol that starts the engine of the car but does
not change its structure" (Piaget, 2001). In other words, there is a close
relation between petrol and the engine, i.e. between the affection and the
cognition, because there are not affectionate states without cognitive
elements, as well as there are not cognitive behaviours. Another author,
Vygotsky (1996), defends a unifying approach of the cognitive and
affectionate dimensions of the psychological functioning, affirming that
"the form of thinking, together with the concept system was imposed on us
by the environment that surrounds us, including also our feelings.

We do not merely feel: the feeling is understood by the way of jealousy,
cholera, ultraje, and offence. If we say that we despise someone, just the
fact of stating our feelings makes that those change, as they keep a
certain relationship with our inner thoughts".

Piaget (quoted by Dobbin, 2000), defends that the thought is the basis for
learning and the way how intelligence is revealed, being the intelligence a
biological phenomenon conditioned by the neuronic basis of the brain and
the whole body, and dependent from the maturity process of the organism.
The intelligence is the adapting mechanism of the body to a new situation,
and so, implies continuous building of new structures; develops a structure
and a performance, in which this will gradually change the structure.

Therefore, the structure is not permanent but instead it is dynamic, always
in a continuous process of development. This development is done by the
interaction of the body with its environment, with the goal to adapt itself
in order to survive and fulfil the vital potential of the organism. This
way, the adaptation refers to the outer world, as all the biological
adaptation. The individuals develop intellectually through exercises and
stimulus offered by the surrounding environment. The maturity structure of
the individual experiences a genetic process and the genesis depends of a
maturity structure.

If an individual can act under the knowledge to enter in the relationships
system, this person is prepared to receive certain knowledge. There is no
new knowledge, if the organism has no previous knowledge to integrate and
transform it. This implies two poles of the intelligent activity:
assimilation and accommodation.

It is the assimilation that integrates the experience, structuring to
incorporate to the outer world the forms which come from the activity of
the individual. It is the accommodation that since the structure modifies
due to the environment and its changes. The intellectual adaptation is then
a progressive balance between an assimilation mechanism and the
complementary accommodation.

The building of the intelligence is then made by subsequent stages, with
increasing complexities, threaded one in the others. The development of the
individual starts in the intra-uterine period and goes up to 15 or 16 years
old. The intellectual structures appear slowly, between birth and the
period of 12 - 15 years old, but according to the stages of development.
The order of succession of these stages is extremely regular and comparable
to the stages of the birth of the embryo. The embryogenesis concerns to the
body development, but also to the development of the nervous systems and
the development of mental functions. Regarding the development of the
children knowledge, the embryogenesis only ends at adulthood. The
development speed, meanwhile, can vary from one individual to another and
also from one to another social environment; consequently we can find
children who develop quickly and others that develop slowly, but that does
not change the order of succession of the stages.

Long before the appearance of language, all children go through a number of
stages in the training of sensory motor intelligence that can be
characterized by certain standards of "instrumental" behavior. Such
patterns testify the existence of a logic that is inherent in the
coordination of their actions. The development explains the learning.

The period that applies to the motor, verbal and mental development of an
individual of 11 years old on, is the so-called operative abstract period,
and it is characterized to be the highlight of the development of
intelligence corresponding to the level of hypothetical - deductive or
mathematical logical thought. From this structure of thought, the dialectic
is possible, and allows the language to be applied at the level of
discussion in order to reach a conclusion.

The importance of defining periods of development of the intelligence lies
in the fact that each individual acquires new knowledge or survival
strategies, understanding and interpretation of reality. The understanding
of this process is essential for the teachers to understand who they work

Binet (quoted in Almeida, 1988), states that intelligence is fundamentally
action and, as such, involves several steps: understanding, invention,
direction and control. Faced with a specific problem, the subject shows
that it is intelligent; first, understand what the problem is, its nature
and the existing data; second, invent one or more alternatives to solve the
problem; third, having always clearly present in spirit this purpose or
direction to be followed during the real or mental attempts of resolution,
and fourth, evaluating (control) their processes and their results,
probable or real, ensuring a link between the means used and the goal to
achieve during all the process.

Multiple Inteligences

Gama (1998) in his article about multiple intelligences, refers that it was
the psychologist Alfredo Binet who developed, at the beginning of the
twentieth Century and at the request of the French authorities, an
instrument that tests the ability of children in the verbal and logical
areas, since the academic curricula of the high schools emphasized
especially the development of language and Mathematics. This instrument
originated the first intelligence test, developed by Terman at Standford
University, in California: The Standford-Binet Intelligence Scale.

During that century, the use of intelligence tests and the community of
psychometric influenced the idea that we have today about intelligence;
despite Binet himself said that a number in a test could not treat such a
complex question like the human intelligence.

Gama (1998), still in its study on multiple intelligences, says that recent
research in neuropsychology and cognitive development suggests that
cognitive skills are more differentiated and more specific than was
believed. Howard Gardner, psychologist from Harvard University, based on
these searches to question the traditional view of intelligence that
stresses linguistic skills and logical mathematics. According to this
psychologist, all normal individuals are able to perform, till a certain
point, at least in seven different independent intellectual areas. He also
defined intelligence as the ability to solve problems or create products
that are significant in one or more cultural environments.

Armstrong (2001) argues that the theory of Multiple I