Emotional intelligence: What it is and do men or women have more of it
Daniel Goleman originated the theory of emotional intelligence. Here he describes the four domains that govern it, i.e. how we handle ourselves and our relationships.
Daniel Goleman is a psychologist, lecturer, and science journalist who has reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books) was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year and a half.
Goleman is also the author of Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything. The book argues that new information technologies will create “radical transparency,” allowing us to know the environmental, health, and social consequences of what we buy. As shoppers use point-of-purchase ecological comparisons to guide their purchases, market share will shift to support steady, incremental upgrades in how products are made – changing every thing for the better.
His latest book is Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, which he has co-authored with Richard Davidson reveals the science of what meditation can really do for us, as well as exactly how to get the most out of it.
Question: What is emotional intelligence?
Daniel Goleman: Emotional intelligence refers to how well we handle ourselves and our relationships, the 4 domains. Self-awareness, knowing what we’re feeling, why we’re feeling it, which is a basis of, for example, good intuition, good decision-making. Also, it’s a moral compass. Say, in part, is self-management, which means handling your distressing emotions in effective ways so that they don’t cripple you, they don’t get in the way of what you’re doing, and yet, attuning them… to them when you need to so that you learn what you must. Every emotion has a function. Also, [marshalling] positive emotions, getting ourselves, you know, involved, enthused about what we’re doing, aligning our actions with our passions. The third is empathy, knowing what someone else is feeling. And the fourth is putting that altogether in skilled relationship. So that’s what I mean by emotional intelligence. There’re many definitions out there. The part of the brain, it turns out, that supports emotional and social intelligence is actually the last circuitry of the brain to become anatomically mature. And because the neuroplasticity of the brain shapes itself according to repeated experiences, so my argument is, hey, we should be teaching kids regularly overtime, in a systematic way, self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social skill. In fact, there, now, enough programs and they’ve been around enough in schools that they’re about to publish a huge meta analysis, looking at hundreds of schools and kids that had the program versus those that don’t. Guess what? All anti-social behavior, you know, disruption in class, find that… it goes down 10%. Pro-social behavior, liking school, well-behave, up 10%. Academic achievement scores, up 11%. So it really pays. Executive function, which is mediated by the prefrontal lobe, both helps you manage your emotions and helps you pay attention. So as kids learn these skills, they also learn learning… basic learning skills. I think that the fact that that was an argument was one thing that caught people’s attention. Then, there was a little chapter on… called managing with heart, which argued that leaders who were sons of a bitch were actually defeating the company’s own mission. And I think that made a lot of people happy because they work for people like that. I don’t know… Some people gave it to other people because they thought they needed help in this domain. I’m sure there’re a zillion reasons why people like the book.
Question: Are we becoming more emotionally intelligent?
Daniel Goleman: I hope more. I know IQ has been going up for a hundred years as children encounter more sophisticated cognitive environment as they grow. I don’t know that we’re becoming more emotionally intelligent. I like to hope we would but I think that the number of intergroup wars going on, the intergroup hatred going on, the, you know, levels of familial abuse, in other words, indicators of emotions out of control in dangerous ways don’t look that great, which is why I’m a very strong proponent of getting these social, emotional learning programs in every school worldwide.
Question: Are women more emotionally intelligent than men?
Daniel Goleman: Well, I get asked that question in a different way, which is, are women more emotionally intelligent than men? And you have to remember that emotional intelligence is a range of abilities, self-awareness, emotional self-management, empathy, social skills. Women tend to be better than men on average at empathy, particularly emotional empathy, sensing in the moment how the other person is feeling and also, at social skills, at keeping things feeling good between people in a group. Men, on the other hand, tend to be better on average at self-confidence, particularly in group, and at managing distressing emotions. But what’s very interesting is if you look at leaders who were in the top 10%, there’s no difference between the men and the women on any of those variables. In other words, you have a whole human being. So I would say that on average, there probably are differences men and women in this domain of ability. But as people develop their skills, as people become more effective, they pick up strengths in areas that they need.
Question: What cultures have the highest emotional intelligence?
Daniel Goleman: Well, I think that emotional intelligence as a universal but it looks different in different places. You know, Japan has a very rigid set of rules of social interaction, lots of subtleties. Americans typically blunder into the Japanese system, don’t get what’s going on. And, you know, it’s embarrassing but they wouldn’t recognize, necessarily, emotional intelligence in Japanese setting. Brazil is a very different culture. It’s very outgoing, you know, kind of like an Italian culture. And so, it will look different there but I think the fundamentals are the same.
Emotional intelligence is a range of abilities, self-awareness, emotional self-management, empathy, social skills. Women tend to be better than men on average at empathy, particularly emotional empathy, sensing in the moment how the other person is feeling and also, at social skills, at keeping things feeling good between people in a group. Men, on the other hand, tend to be better on average at self-confidence, particularly in groups, and at managing distressing emotions.
A recent study gives new meaning to the saying "fake it 'til you make it."
- The study involves four experiments that measured individuals' socioeconomic status, overconfidence and actual performance.
- Results consistently showed that high-class people tend to overestimate their abilities.
- However, this overconfidence was misinterpreted as genuine competence in one study, suggesting overestimating your abilities can have social advantages.
Is this proof of a dramatic shift?
- Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
- Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
- A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses
Dramatic and misleading
Image: Reddit / SICResearch
The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.
Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.
The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.
Let's zoom in:
- It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
- By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
- Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
- In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
- Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
- By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.
Image source: Reddit / SICResearch
This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?
- "The end is near."
- "The idiocracy grows."
- "(It's) like a spreading disease."
- "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
- "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
- "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
- "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
- "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."
Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:
- "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
- "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
- "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
- "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."
"Old people learning to Google"
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)
But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:
- "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
- "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
- "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
- "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."
A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.
The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.
One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.
Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.
It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.
CNN, Fox and MSNBC
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison
For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):
- Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
- MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
- CNN: 706,000 (-9%)
And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
If you thought your mother was pushy in her pursuit of grandchildren, wait until you learn about bonobo mothers.
- Mother bonobos have been observed to help their sons find and copulate with mates.
- The mothers accomplish this by leading sons to mates, interfering with other males trying to copulate with females, and helping sons rise in the social hierarchy of the group.
- Why do mother bonobos do this? The "grandmother hypothesis" might hold part of the answer.
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