Emotional Intelligence

Our ability to sense, comprehend, and control emotions is known as emotional intelligence (EI) and is considered crucial to human flourishing. For centuries we thought that emotions and cognition were two separate things. Today we know the two interact constantly. The most relevant model, on what is referred to as EQ, was developed by John Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990. 

the full story
Intro to EI

Emotional intelligence, also known as EI or EQ, is the brain’s ability to see feelings coming — and then to use them, listen to what they’ve got to say, and manage them effectively.

Recognizing emotions
Recognizing emotions

People with lots of EI recognize their own emotions and can identify them in others. This allows them to discern between different feelings, adjust their inner states and communicate better.

The 4 skills models
4 skill models

Perhaps the most relevant model of “emotional intelligence” was developed by the psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey, who defined it in 1990 as the sum of four skills: perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions.

1. perceiving emotions
1 Perceiving emotions

Perceiving Emotions is our ability to detect them in faces, pictures, and voices — including in ourselves. It’s the foundation of emotional intelligence and makes all other processing of sentimental information possible.

2. using emotions
2 Using emotions

Using emotions is the ability to align our hearts with our heads. People who are emotionally intelligent can perceive their changing moods and as a result, may change what they do to channel their feelings effectively.

3. understanding emotions
3 Understanding emotions

Understanding emotions is our ability to comprehend the complex relationships between feelings. It involves recognizing and describing how moods evolve and change over time.

4. managing emotions
4 managing emotions

Managing emotions is the ability to regulate feelings in ourselves and in others. People who are good at that can control their sentiments, manage their moods, and are able to influence the emotions of others.

Developing emotional intelligence
Development of EI

While some people seem to be naturally gifted with all four abilities, others have to work hard on every single one of them. The good news is, most of us can improve our EI through mindfulness, exercises, therapy, and education. And it seems it’s worth the effort!

The impact on success
Impact on success

Higher emotional intelligence often correlates with higher academic and professional success. This is because our emotions and the way we manage them impact directly on our brain’s ability to listen and learn.

As Peter Salovey concluded: “People in good moods are better at inductive reasoning and creative problem-solving.”

what do you think?

So what do you think? Is emotional intelligence something we can and should try to teach in schools?  And if so, how? Tell us your thoughts and experiences of improving your own EI in the comments below. 


Dig deeper!

Classroom activity

In the following activity students are going to learn about Emotional Intelligence, how it affects life, and how to improve it. 

  • Separate the class in five groups, and assign one of the following emotions to each group: anxiety, anger, excitement, confidence, boredom. 
  • Ask each group to present ways in which their emotion or state can influence someone taking a test.
  • Show Sprouts’ video on Emotional Intelligence
  • Ask the groups how they can perceive, use, understand and manage their assigned emotion, and how it can help while taking a test. 
  • Usually emotions and states are accompanied by physical manifestations of that emotion. For example sadness is often accompanied by a loss of appetite, fatigue and slower movements.
  • Ask the groups what physical manifestations of their assigned emotions they can use to better recognize it. 


  • Script: Jonas Koblin
  • Artist: Pascal Gaggelli
  • Voice: Matt Abbott
  • Coloring: Sasalux
  • Editing: Peera Lertsukittipongsa
  • Production: Selina Bador
  • Fact-checking: Ludovico Saint Amour Di Chanaz
  • Sound Design: Miguel Ojeda

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