Friday, January 10, 2014

The Dark Side of Emotional IQ?

Daniel Goleman popularized the term emotional intelligence in his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ". Apparently people are just now realizing that emotional intelligence is basically a prerequisite for effective manipulation and emotional deceit? Adam Grant writes for The Atlantic about "The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence":

In some jobs, being in touch with emotions is essential. In others, it seems to be a detriment. And like any skill, being able to read people can be used for good or evil.

Since the 1995 publication of Daniel Goleman’s bestseller, emotional intelligence has been touted by leaders, policymakers, and educators as the solution to a wide range of social problems. If we can teach our children to manage emotions, the argument goes, we’ll have less bullying and more cooperation. If we can cultivate emotional intelligence among leaders and doctors, we’ll have more caring workplaces and more compassionate healthcare. As a result, emotional intelligence is now taught widely in secondary schools, business schools, and medical schools.

Emotional intelligence is important, but the unbridled enthusiasm has obscured a dark side. New evidence shows that when people hone their emotional skills, they become better at manipulating others. When you’re good at controlling your own emotions, you can disguise your true feelings. When you know what others are feeling, you can tug at their heartstrings and motivate them to act against their own best interests.


Shining a light on this dark side of emotional intelligence is one mission of a research team led by University College London professor Martin Kilduff. According to these experts, emotional intelligence helps people disguise one set of emotions while expressing another for personal gain. Emotionally intelligent people “intentionally shape their emotions to fabricate favorable impressions of themselves,” Professor Kilduff’s team writes. “The strategic disguise of one’s own emotions and the manipulation of others’ emotions for strategic ends are behaviors evident not only on Shakespeare’s stage but also in the offices and corridors where power and influence are traded.”

Dark side? Saying emotional intelligence has a dark side because it makes you better at influencing people to act and choose in ways that they might not otherwise have chosen is sort of like saying intelligence has a dark side because frequently people who make smart choices also happen to foreclose opportunities for other people. Not everything in life is a zero sum game, but often when there are winners there are also losers, e.g. most stock trades. And isn't the ability to persuade and even manipulate people one of the carrots for learning emotional intelligence in the first place? The same way that the ability to earn more and engage in more of life is an incentive to cultivate ones' other intelligences? Are we trying to defang nature?


  1. My guess would be that the empaths figured that the bad people were just unfeeling jerks. Now they've figured out that actually the bad people are conniving but feeling jerks, which makes them feel like the world is a very evil place.

    This is a shock to them because they don't conceive of themselves as conniving manipulators. That is, you and I, when we manipulate, often do it in a conscious and premeditated fashion. We've had to learn how to fake emotions and manipulate people, so it reaches our conscious awareness. Unlike normal people (eg typical women) who just do it so naturally they are unconscious that they are manipulating.

    So now these poor people think that the world is a place filled with calculating, callous jerks like you and me. And we are taking advantage of the good, emotional and genuine people. And that's simply outrageous.

  2. To suceed we need the proper balance of 3 types of "intelligence."
    They are: I.Q. E.Q. (Emotional Intelligence) and S.Q. (Spiritual
    Rates of I.Q. and E.Q. can vary by individual, and there is often an
    imbalance. For example, Adam Lanza had a very high I.Q., but a very
    low E.Q. As is often the case, this made him an "injustice collecter."
    He saw social interaction in the world as an esclator he couldn't
    One of the more pathetic series of photographs I ever saw, were a
    series of snapshots on the front page of a N.Y.C. tabloid newspaper.
    A renowned academic had just been stabbed in the chest by a street
    punk who attempted to rob him. It was an inglourous sequence of
    photo's as the professer slithered away like a dying dog in his death
    Do you think the solution to these social ills is a looser sexual climate
    as I heard proposed? If the teen had had sex that day, might his rage
    have been blunted and he WOULDN'T have stabbed the teacher?
    It's called the "butterfly effect." Just ask Jodi Arias. She, with her
    Enistein I.Q. made mention of that during her interrogation.

  3. Emotional intelligence used for dark purposes is kind of like a great mind using its power to create weapons of mass destruction.

    Any positive trait can become a negative force in society if it is used in the service of destroying/undermining others.

    As for The dark side of EQ? old news...ever since Robert Hare discovered that improving the emotional literacy of psychopaths just made them more dangerous, this principle has been observed.

  4. What is needed is an alternative to EQ for those who have been given this dark gift-some way of appraising the emotional environment in a more neutral less dominant manner. Sociopaths and those on the spectrum can often blunder across the emotional landscape like Godzilla going ape at Japan-because we are unfamiliar with emotions (our own as well as those of others), we tend to disregard significant emotional cues, blanking things that seem of little interest to us but our socially very very significant. This is how we can inadvertently hurt others, the problem comes when we do follow the cues we still do not know how to act, and may still end up hurting others emotionally just by our unfamiliarity with the procedures and the etiquette of human intimacy. I am of the pretty firm belief that until science finds a way to down load and access the nervous system digitally then very little can be got from psychology or counselling. Until then I attempt to find some form of emotional hieroglyphics to help me access and control my frantic and rabid emotional outbursts. The problem lies with the unfamiliarity of close intimate human contact upon the sociopathic nervous system-it being so alien and unwarranted as to register as ATTACK and to activate the jammed amygdala (flicking FLIGHT and FIGHT all at once!).

    1. Until a digital down load of the nervous system option is available, I wouldn't rule out seeking assistance in the admittedly less than perfect assistance of psychoanalysis.
      My understanding is that the true value of psychoanalysis has less to do with the sort term soothing of emotional distress and more to do with learning to identify the roots of subconscious drives that we recognize to create trouble for us.
      You are so on target in your description of the sort of emotional storms that you locate as a cause for an outburst that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. In order to function in your everyday life you have to suppress a lot of emotions- and you may not even do it consciously- it's a defense strategy that worked well for you when you were at a more powerless stage of life.
      But now you are no longer the dependent innocent who is in danger of exploitation, so it's possible that suppression of unpleasant emotions may do you more harm than good at this stage of the game. Psychoanalysis helps you understand the things you've suppressed and defuse your perception of threat that no longer exists at the same level so you can experience less anxiety/fear that causes emotional storms to erupt every now and again.

      At least, that's what I've observed to be the most long term helpful aspect of psychoanalysis.

    2. Psykopath-i-logical that was very well written and described!

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  6. I don't see it as a manipulation. If you want to blame someone for how you feel, or for something you did, you can say you were emotionally manipulated. Or if you want to make someone feel bad, or make them feel guilty, I guess you could call that an emotional manipulation, but you are not going to get much out of making people feel bad.

    1. The thing is we've manipulated ourselves into each and every situation that we experience, and we don't even know it. We're mostly unaware that we have decided on everything that we experience.

    2. Nobody else is responsible for how you feel or how you behave. Why would you want to give someone that much power over you?

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Sorry for the deletion :(. Freedom is a responsibility, not a right.

  9. It sounds like all this is saying sociopathy is a choice.


  10. If I do not shoot one or two crewmen now and then, they would forget who I am.

  11. This article contains a psychometric test that quantifies and measures the dark side of emotional intelligence. You've got to pay for it through science direct, or it can be obtained through contacting the authors, or if you have free access to these journals. As far as we can see there is no other psychometric test out there that allows us to gain insight into the different way (good and bad) that people manipulate others emotions.

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  13. I feel sorry for sociopaths. The only people they're playing games with is themselves. Emotional intelligence is a silly concept - logic and rationalizing is separate from emotions. It's like comparing the kidneys to the liver - they effect each other I'm sure, but they are two completely different organs.


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