‘Multiple’ and ‘emotional’ intelligence

The idea that there are many forms of intelligent capability, and that these are influenced by the social context in which people act, is thus now largely accepted.  A particularly developed form of this argument is that of Howard Gardner (1985, 1999) who has suggested that there are ‘multiple intelligences':

linguistic: enables individuals to communicate and make sense of the world through language (e.g.  as journalists, novelists and lawyers)

logical mathematical: allows individuals to use and appreciate abstract relations (e.g.  scientists, accountants, philosophers)

 visual spatial: makes it possible for people to visualize, transform and use spatial information (e.g.  architects, sculptors and mechanics)

bodily kinaesthetic: e.g.  enables people to use high levels of physical movement, control and expression (e.g.  athletes, dancers and actors)

musical: allows people to create, communicate and understand meanings made from sound (e.g.  composers, singers, musicians)

interpersonal: helps people to recognize and make distinctions about others' feelings and intentions and respond accordingly (e.g.  teachers, politicians and sales people)

intrapersonal: enables a capacity for a reflective understanding of others and oneself (e.g.  therapists and some form of artists and religious leaders)

naturalist: allows people to understand and develop the environment (e.g.  farmers, gardeners and geologists).

Gardner's analysis is an advance over the notion that each person has a unified and fixed intellectual capacity.  In particular, it has the direct implication for teachers that pupils should be offered diverse learning opportunities which can tap into a wide range of abilities and ‘intelligences'.  Indeed, research has shown that intelligence is developed through opportunity and experience (Shayer and Adey, 2002) – and is not fixed. 

An influential extension of this argument has been popularised by Daniel Goleman through the concept of ‘emotional intelligence' (1995).  This draws particular attention to the feelings that are often associated with learning, and the ways in which these are managed. 

Goleman’s work builds on the foundations of research over many decades by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer.  They defined emotional intelligence as:

The subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions. (1990)

A model was developed which identified four more explicit elements of emotional intelligence.

  1. Perceiving Emotions: To become aware of when emotions are influencing feelings or behaviour is a crucial starting point.  The signs may be non-verbal and subtle, as well as more dramatic. 
  2. Reasoning with Emotions: At another stage, emotions can be used to promote thinking and reflection on events or experiences. If they have been identified, they can be analysed. 
  3. Understanding Emotions: When emotions are analysed, it may be that patterns can be discerned.  These may involve personal feelings, or relationships with others. And there may be issues about power, dignity, achievement, or all sorts of other issues which, when understood, enable one to ‘stand back’ a little.
  4. Managing Emotions: This is the key goal of as emotional intelligence grows.  When fully aware, it should be possible to manage oneself, and also to begin to manage others through careful control of responses. 

According to Salovey, Mayer and Caruso, the four branches of this model are:

Arranged from more basic psychological processes to higher, more psychologically integrated processes. For example, the lowest level branch concerns the (relatively) simple abilities of perceiving and expressing emotion. In contrast, the highest level branch concerns the conscious, reflective regulation of emotion. (2000)

This quote suggests, accurately, that effective reflective practice benefits greatly from high levels of emotional intelligence.