Cliff Lansley PhD

Cliff Lansley PhD

I recently asked a group of fourteen people to identify someone (privately) in the room, and rate them on the four point scale as to their ‘judgement of other person’s intelligence’. The criteria were:

  • Low
  • Below average
  • Above average
  • High

I then asked them to rate themselves on the same scale. The group were asked to raise their right hand if they rated the other person at a three or four, and to raise their left arm is they rated themselves three or four. 27 of the 28 hands were raised giving a percentage of 96%. This is called the ‘above average’ effect. It is a cognitive bias whereby a person overestimates their own qualities and abilities, in relation to the same qualities and abilities of other persons.

Discussion followed about the frame of reference (i.e. average of what group? This one? This organisation? This City? Globally?). We also considered what is the definition of intelligence they had in mind when they were deciding on the rating. It seemed to be restricted to intelligence as measured by an IQ test – i.e. academic, scholastic intelligence centred around what IQ tests tend to focus on – verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical qualities. Emotional intelligence (interpersonal, intrapersonal) and other qualities highlighted by Garner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, such as musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic and naturalistic didn’t seem to feature.

The group were asked whether self-report would be a good method of assessing IQ for entry to education, jobs, etc. This methodology was immediately considered as being unacceptable i.e. self perception would be absurd for determining intelligence if we were thinking of IQ measures, Research highlights self-report correlating only weakly (0.20) with popular IQ tests.

Yet this is the methodology of choice for many emotional intelligence instrument designers. There are some minor exceptions where ability model EI frameworks are assessed against consensus scoring and expert rating, though these too are also criticised as being measures of knowledge rather than the ability to apply in real-life contexts.

If we take the Oxford dictionary definition of intelligence to be ‘the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills’ most EQ definitions include the factors of awareness and management of our own and others’ emotions. The definition needs to add-in context and the goal or purpose of the interaction.

The challenge goes further. Emotional intelligence models are dominated by trait-based criteria some are a mix of traits and abilities all these models are assessed by self or multi-rater subjective judgement many are restricted to specific contexts such as leadership, workers, children, and are covered by value-laden themes such as empathy, service orientation, collaboration and teamwork. Whilst these are worthy causes for many of us, this approach isolates the utilisation of emotional intelligence in competitive environments such as sport, poker, corporate competition and politics. Good models need to be designed to test the application of emotional intelligence in medium or high state contexts then the real value of high emotional intelligence can make a difference to the economy, to businesses, to families, to society, and in life-and-death situations.

We are seeking views on this topic and are seeking input to our research and development work as we attempt to level the playing field between IQ and EQ. All contributions welcomed here or direct to please.

About the author

Cliff Lansley PhD

Cliff Lansley PhD

Expert in emotional intelligence, behavioural analysis and high stake deception detection contexts. Cliff holds; PhD in Emotional Intelligence, B Ed (Hons), MIOD, MABPsych, Cert Ed.