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What is Goleman’s Theory of Emotional Intelligence?

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Goleman’s Theory of Emotional Intelligence was first developed in 1995 when he published a book based on his research. The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) helps individuals to guide their thinking and actions. He defined emotional intelligence as the ability of individuals to recognize their feelings and those of others for motivation and management of emotions for themselves and their relationship with others. 

This theory applies to many different spheres of life, including educational settings, to improve the students’ emotional intelligence.

Goleman’s Theory of Emotional Intelligence

Brief History

The concept of emotional intelligence was first introduced by John Mayer and Peter Saloven in 1997.

Afterward, another psychologist, Daniel Goleman (a renowned psychologist and science journalist), proposed his theory. His concept stemmed from his experience and research, which focused on behaviors, emotions, and the brain.

He also published his book on emotional intelligence in 1995. The book was titled “Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ,” allowing him to emerge as one of the New York Times best-selling authors based on the concept he developed. The idea of EI was taken more seriously globally after the book was published, and different societies included it in their culture.

The components of EI formed by him were further elucidated by Kendra Cherry in a 2018  article titled “How Psychologists Evaluate Intelligence.” According to Cherry, the components listed below are essential for individuals to understand emotions. 

Goleman’s Key Components


  • According to John Mayer, self-awareness is the ability of an individual to know the current mood and its reasons. It enables individuals to understand their strengths and weaknesses and process the effect of moods, emotions, and drives in other people.
  • Self Awareness depends on the ability to identify and monitor one’s emotions and properly identify emotions in other people.  Emotions constantly evolve and can be communicated both verbally and non-verbally. Without self-awareness, an individual can not objectively assess emotional states because there is a need to know the reason for each emotional state.
  • Individuals who have the attributes of self-awareness demonstrate self-confidence, mainly when they assess their performance with the opinions of their colleagues.


  • Motivation is the inner passion that drives outward activities. It considers the benefits of engaging in activities in the long run rather than immediate gains.
  • The stronger the motivation, the more the tendency to focus on the set goals by individuals. Motivated individuals have a strong drive to achieve more, and they also display optimism even if they face unexpected challenges.


  •  Empathy refers to the ability of individuals to respond to others based on their emotional make-up or reactions.
  • It involves the show of concern towards others when they have negative experiences. It requires sensing the feelings of others, allowing them to share how they feel and understand them based on their perspective.
  • This component improves attributes such as cross-cultural sensitivity, talent building and retention, and to clients.

Social Skills

  • An individual’s social skills determine the extent to which relationships and networks are built and maintained. It involves the ability of the individual to find common ground with other people under different circumstances and leverage their views about the world to build relationships.
  • This component is essential in building teams and bringing about positive change in settings. It also fosters interactions among people with diverse backgrounds through enhanced communications.


  • Self-regulation is the ability to control unexpected or disruptive emotions or impulses by maintaining a positive outlook even when situations do not go as planned. It helps prevent spontaneous judgment.
  • It improves openness to change and adaptability among individuals. It also empowers individuals to develop good initiative, optimism, and integrity. Individuals that exhibit self-regulation do not react to setbacks but they respond appropriately by managing their emotions.
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