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Educating People to be Emotionally Intelligent

written by Dave Shearon 17 September 2007

Dave Shearon, MAPP, applies positive psychology to both law and education. Dave writes articles about applications of Positive Psychology to law and education at his site. He co-authored the recently published book, Smart Strengths: Building Character, Resilience and Relationships in Youth. Full bio.

Dave's articles are here.

This is not a book review; it is a book note for Educating People to Be Emotionally Intelligent. I began writing such notes for the website I set up when I ran for the School Board. This is part of my “person-plus” intelligence. I hope some readers find it helpful.


Reuven Bar-On, J.G. Maree, and Maurice Jesse Elias, eds. (2007). Educating People to Be Emotionally Intelligent. Westport, CT: Praeger.

This book is composed in six sections. The sections, and the number of chapters in each in parenthesis, are:

Axioms (1)

Children (2)

Educating (7)

Adults (4)

Treatment (2)


There is a final chapter entitled, “Integrative Summary.”

The foreword, written by Daniel Goleman, begins, “In a sense, this book represents the healing of a long-standing wound in Western civilization, one caused by the chasm between thought and feeling.” For me, this sentence highlights both why I bought and read the book, and my most significant difficulty with it. I bought the book as part of my effort to understand more about the “elephant” in Jon Haidt’s metaphor of the rider and the elephant. I think it is easy but mistaken to think of the elephant as emotions. I believe that there is strong evidence that those processes in the mind which are not readily open to conscious observation are significantly involved in analytical, goal-directed, and predictive thinking. Some chapters in this book provide significant evidence to support this view. I wanted to get a better grasp of the emotional components, and thought this was a good way to start. I got my money’s worth, even though the book is not cheap. However, I did not see a great chasm between thoughts and emotions going in, and I do not see such chasm after reading the book.

The core understanding of both resilience training and learned optimism is the insight from cognitive therapy that between an activating event in the world and our feelings or actions lies our beliefs about that event. It is these beliefs that affect how we will feel and act. If, for example, a male boss says to a female secretary, “that is a beautiful dress you’re wearing,” she might feel pride if she believed him to have exquisite taste in matters of color and style and thought was paying her a genuine compliment on her taste. On the other hand, if she believed him to be the biggest lecher she had ever met, she might feel disgusted and angry. There is no chasm between thoughts and emotions in that example. I will come back to this observation again, but let’s go ahead and take a look at the chapters in the book.

Chapter 1: “How Important Is It to Educate People to Be Emotionally Intelligent, and Can It Be Done” Reuven Bar-On

Citing research going back to Charles Darwin and coming forward to modern studies indicating that IQ is a much less significant predictor of success than emotional intelligence, Dr. Bar-On reviewed studies linking emotional intelligence in its various constructs and measured in different ways to superior health outcomes both physical and psychological, quality relationships, performance at school and in the workplace. He also notes its correlation with self-actualization, which appears to be close to the concepts of engagement and using strengths in positive psychology. Not surprisingly, he also notes a correlation with subjective well-being.On the question of whether people can be educated to be emotionally intelligent, Dr. Bar-on points out that many children worldwide are being introduced to the concept of EI and that some preliminary research is being done on the effectiveness of these efforts. This was, perhaps, the most startling discovery in this book for me. As I will discuss when we come to those chapters, much of the work with emotional intelligence and skills has been based on programs that someone thought would be helpful and rolled out in large-scale efforts without any preliminary research on effectiveness. In each of the chapters on education, the suggestion is made that it is now time to do the research. Huh? It is exactly that type of program-pushing this caused many of the problems we see in public schools today. The contrast with the detailed research that backs up the Penn Resiliency Program is striking.

Chapter 2: “The Development of Emotional Competence: Pathways for Helping Children to Become Emotionally Intelligent” Carolyn Saarni

Dr. Saarni begins by noting two distinct conceptualizations of emotional intelligence:reasoning about emotions (Mayer and Salovey)managing emotions and social relationships (Bar-On).She then focuses on work from developmental psychology and how the skills within the superordinate construct of emotional competence develop over time. These skills include:

1. Awareness of our emotional state,

2. Skill in discerning and understanding the emotions of others,

3. Skill in using the vocabulary of emotion and expression of terms commonly available in a subculture,

4. Capacity for empathic and sympathetic involvement,

5. Skill in understanding that in her emotional states need not correspond outer expression,

6. Skill in adaptive coping with a versatile emotions and distressing circumstances,

7. Awareness that the structure or nature of relationships depends on how emotions are communicated, and

8. Capacity to view one’s emotional experience as justified in accord with moral beliefs.

Dr. Saarni discusses each of these skills and the developmental impact of factors such as parental involvement and ability to model the skills.

I agree with Dr. Saarni’s assertion that emotional intelligence or competence is a composite construct. I found her discussion of individual skills helpful for gaining a better understanding of the components of the construct.

Chapter 3: “Emotionally Intelligent Parenting” Robin Stern and Maurice J. Elias

This chapter discusses the role of emotional intelligence in key parenting tasks such as setting limits. While the chapter has interesting scenarios and suggestions that strike me as reasonable, it is remarkably devoid of research. For example, on page 44, this statement has no citation for support, “It is all too common, and destructive, for parents to project their histories or preferences on to their children.” And that lack is not anomalous. Again, I found many of the suggestions superficially reasonable, but the lack of research bothers me in a text such as this.

Chapter 4: “School-Family Partnerships to Enhance Children’s Social, Emotional and Academic Learning” Evanthia N. Patrikakou and Roger P Weissberg

This is another chapter that illustrates the classic problem of educational programs being rolled out without adequate research support. Again, I do not disagree with some of the suggestions, but neither my agreement, nor that of the policymakers discussed in this chapter, constitutes a research basis for the program. For example, this chapter discusses approvingly the promulgation by the Illinois State Board of Education of learning standards for “social emotional learning” (SEL). My note about this chapter captures my reaction, “All about importance of school/parent partnerships, then with conclusion that research to demonstrate effectiveness of programs is needed!!!???”

Chapter 5: “The Social, Emotional and Academic Education of Children: Theories, Goals, Methods and Assessments” Jonathan Cohen and Sandra V. Sandy

I like this sentence in the introduction, “Whatever the priorities, as parents and teachers we do not serve only to shape children’s linguistic competencies or ‘intelligence’, we always teach social-emotional competencies and ethical dispositions as well.” Academic standards are never the totality of what is going on in school. That is obvious, but we too often act as though it were not.

This chapter provides the best set of references to research cited in support of propositions such as, “[W]hen we purposefully integrate social, emotional and cognitive items into teaching we promote students’ ability to achieve academically, to stop problems nonviolently and to foster the capacity to be effective citizens.” As I have indicated, I would like to have a chapter in the book that discusses the research, but at least having some references is helpful. It seems to me that, in a book oriented toward educating for emotional intelligence, such a chapter is an obvious need. However, at least, we have citations to studies that are alleged to back up these propositions. Ifyou’re looking for the data, go directly to the studies; the book does not provide details.

I will pick two sentences from this chapter to emphasize, however. First, on page 71, “We have discovered that educators who want to implement SEE programs in their classrooms report that they need to apply learning to their personal lives before they can effectively use it in the classroom.” This is exactly the approach that the Penn Resiliency Program is taking, and they do have data to show that teachers who had an opportunity to learn and apply the skills involved in that program in their own lives, and who receive adequate supervision during their initial presentation of material, are notably more effective than their counterparts without such advantages.

Second, on page 69, the authors mention “Critical Friends Groups” and state that a study by the Annenberg Institute found “a strong positive correlation between the existence of ‘professional learning communities’ in the school, the effectiveness of teachers and state achievement.” Yep. I’ve been pushing that one for a while.

Chapter 6: “School Practices to Build Social-Emotional Competence As the Foundation of Academic and Life Success” Joseph E. Zins, Maurice J. Elias and Mark T. Greenberg

This chapter begins with a discussion of what social-emotional learning is and the conceptual link between it and school and life success. He goes on to discuss a number of specific programs that have been implemented widely in schools to support the claim that success requires integrating such instruction with all available student support services, “such as school psychology, nutrition, guidance counseling, health education in nursing.” While this certainly seems like a good idea, how would one create a research design for teasing out the effects of integration with such programs as opposed to the lack of integration, while controlling for all of the potential variables in a school setting? As I read the description of what research is cited, it seems that the researchers designed programs with all these components, implemented them, and then found that they achieve some of their objectives for increases in emotional competence. Such research would not, of course, establish either the necessity or the usefulness of the multiple components integrated into the design. It might not even establish that the design itself worked. Again, it is possible that research does support the need for such integrated, school-wide, systems-oriented approaches. However, if you’re looking for such evidence, you’ll have to go to the studies themselves because it is not explicitly detailed here.

Chapter 7: “The Comer School Development Program Come in a Pioneering Approach to Improving Social, Emotional and Academic Competence” Norris M. Haynes

Chapter 8: “The Self-Science Approach to Social-Emotional Learning” Karen McCown, anabel L. Jensen and Joshua Freedman

Chapter 9: “Creating an Emotionally Intelligent School District: A Skills-Based Approach” Marc A. Brackett, Bruce Alster, Charles J. Wolfe, Nicole A. Katulak and Edward Fale

 I have lumped all three of these chapters together because each one simply describes an approach to “social-emotional learning” it is already being implemented in some number of school systems. The Comer system goes back almost 30 years and the Self-Science approach almost 40. The third chapter describes a set of workshop products the authors have developed and are selling to school systems. The conclusion to the chapter includes the sentence, “These programs are currently being evaluated.” The chapter on the Self-Science system actually cites Alfie Kohn as an authority for the claim that, “there are many programs that claim to teach character, values or social skills, while they actually teach compliance.”

Chapter 10: “First Steps in Developing a Community-Based Teacher Training Program Designed to Educate Children to Be Emotionally Intelligent” Jacobus G. Maree and Queen Esther M. Mokhuane

This chapter describes efforts to develop a teacher training program in South Africa. Frankly, I scanned this chapter as it seems highly tied to the specific cultural circumstances of funding, infrastructure development, educational attainment, etc. in South Africa. However, I love the concept of “thick” I picked up in this sentence from page 143, “In other studies, related to the project described here, we conducted in-depth interviews with principals, and we often sense their ‘thick’, that is, abundant demotivation or lack of motivation.” !! I’ve know folks with ‘thick.’ In fact, there have been periods in my life when I’ve experienced ‘thick’ myself!

Chapter 11: “Developing Emotional Intelligence through Coaching Leadership, Professional and Occupational Excellence” Richard E. Boyatzis

The question, “What do you want?” is often experienced by the recipient as extremely penetrating, challenging, and difficult to answer. That observation fits well with this chapter by Dr. Boyatzis. He suggested adults learn “what they want to learn” and that the desire to learn can be stimulated by the realization of a discrepancy between one’s ideal self and the real self. He notes that often individuals he coaches do not have a clear vision of either their ideal or their real self. Thus, the coaching process, and the learning process, begins with an effort of discovery. I was also interested in this chapter to see that Dr. Boyatzis worked with Dr. David Kolb in some of the early work that led to the Kolb Learning Style Inventory. Recently, Kathy Story from the Judicial Leadership Institute at the University of Memphis led a speaker training program my Commission sponsored for 18 Tennessee attorneys who frequently speak at CLE programs. That workshop utilized the Kolb LSI as a fundamental tool to help these speakers assist adult learners in engaging with their material. These notes reflect some of that information, so don’t expect to find everything in these notes in the chapter.

Dr. Boyatzis suggests that learning does not take place in a linear fashion. Rather, it partakes of complexity theory as a non-linear set of “discontinuities” that are experienced by the learner as “discoveries.” These discoveries (in some cases using my terms) are:

1. Ideal Self — catching our dreams, engaging our passion: This is the discovery of a powerful answer to the question, “What do I want?”

2. Real Self — Am I a Boiling Frog? This is the recognition that the status quo is not acceptable. This recognition may have to come without the assistance of those closest to the learner.

They may be blinded, either by familiarity or by personal needs or fears, and therefore unable to help the learner assess the need for change. Of course, this supports the usefulness of a coach in such situations.

3. Learning Agenda — the development of a learning agenda promotes mindfulness of the need for change. As part of this agenda, the learner may have to determine what to eliminate from his or her schedule in order to make time to learn. The individual’s preferred learning styles should be taken into account in developing the Learning Agenda.

4. Mindful Practice to Mastery — This part of the learning process will be difficult for those with an assimilative learning style who tend to acquire information by thinking and process it by reflecting. But, both in positive psychology and emotional intelligence, certain aspects of these constructs have to be lived to be understood. We assimilators, therefore, must either be pushed or push ourselves into actual practice of the skills, thinking patterns, and competencies. Our preferred pattern of thinking and reflecting will never get us there. Fortunately, most professionals are capable of learning in all four patterns and their preference for a particular style is just that, a preference. I know I found the experiential learning included in the MAPP program extraordinarily powerful. This would suggest that learning outside one’s preferred style may be great learning.

Chapter 12: “The Practice of Emotional Intelligence Coaching in Organizations: a Hands-On Guide to Successful Outcomes” Charles J. Wolfe

This chapter describes the author’s “emotion-based planning and problem-solving process” that he adapted from the Mayer and Salovey model of emotional intelligence. The author admits that this model lacks quantitative proof that it works. He presents it simply on the basis of its success with his clients. That success may say more about his own EI and coachcing skills than about the model, but I must admit I found helpful insights in his approach. This model suggests four steps when faced with a business problem or negotiation:

1. What are the key people feeling? The author suggests both surveys and imagination as routes to this information. I accept surveys as a source, but I suggest that imagination of how another feels without information as to the beliefs that individual holds is likely to be frequently erroneous. I should note that the author lists this as a limitation in his conclusion to the chapter.

The author suggests both surveys and imagination as routes to this information. I accept surveys as a source, but I suggest that imagination of how another feels without information as to the beliefs that individual holds is likely to be frequently erroneous. I should note that the author lists this as a limitation in his conclusion to the chapter.

2. What feelings would be ideal?

3. How can feelings be changed?

4. Plan how to create the desired changes.

Mr. Wolfe shows how the model can be used in four situations: a case study involving Dell, a manager demoted in a recent reorganization, an information technology manager during an organizational restructuring, and finally a businessman in a key negotiation.

All in all, I found this chapter very helpful in suggesting a way to marshall emotional intelligence in particular situations.

Chapter 13: “Coaching Executives to Enhance Emotional Intelligence and Increase Productivity” Geetu Bharwaney

This chapter discusses the difference between individual and group-based coaching. It suggests that coaching situations are distinguished in two dimensions: the willingness of the person to be coached and the formality of the coaching structure. The author suggests that lawyers, for example, are in situations where the individual to be “coached” is low in willingness and the formality of the coaching structure is low also. Probation officers, police officers, and members of the clergy are also placed in this category. Managers and supervisors, however, are in situations with a high degree of willingness to be coached but low formality for the structure. Interestingly, he places teachers, the key audience for this book, in the category where the structure of coaching is formal, but the willingness of students to be coached is low. Finally, organizational consultants and coaches, like psychotherapists and counselors, are in situations with both high degrees of willingness to be coached and highly formal structures for such coaching. He also goes on to suggest particular activities that fit within the quadrants described. For example, with low willingness and low structure, keynote speeches and reading — general awareness-raising activities — are about all one can deploy. In high willingness, low structure situations, he suggests formal assessments, confidential discussions, and one-day, one-hit workshops. Going back to low willingness, but in high structure situations, formal assessments and the one-day, one-hit workshops are again suggested. With high willingness and high structure, for example in the coaching situation, thorough review of people processes, team development, and focused group interventions are possible.

The other interesting point in this chapter is the author’s endorsement of the Bar-On construct of emotional intelligence and assessment methodology for use with executives. He suggests that it has “high face validity” with executives, by which he means that they rapidly adapt to the language and generally do not have reservations about its use in their organization. The 30 minutes required for use of the Bar-On assessment in these circumstances is reasonable and provides privacy as opposed to, for instance, 360 degree multi-rater procedures. Finally, the empirical basis for this model makes it believable and its comprehensiveness makes it highly discriminating.

This chapter also contains a good discussion of methods for evaluating training programs.

 Chapter 14: “Emotional Competence Development and the Bottom Line: Lessons from American Express Financial Advisors” Douglas Lennick

This is Mr. Lennick’s story of how he began working on what he did not know to call emotional intelligence with American Express financial advisors in the 1970’s. His story was included in Daniel Goleman’s book that popularized emotional intelligence in 1998. The chapter provides an interesting look at the entire process over several decades and I’m not sure I can summarize it in a way that would be helpful. It is worth a read, I would think, if you’re dealing with any sort of emotional intelligence or positive psychology effort at the scale of a large corporation, a large school system, or bigger entity.

Chapter 15: “Applying Emotional Intelligence and Understanding and Treating Physical and Psychological Disorders Program What We Have Learned from Alexithymia” Graeme J. Taylor and Helen L. Taylor-Allan

Alexithymia is defined as difficulty in identifying and describing subjective emotional feelings come the difficulty imagining, and severely an external thinking. When alexithymia and EI are both measured in the same set of subjects, they tend to vary inversely. Thus, as the chapter suggests, the possiblity of a continuum with EI at the healthy end and alexithymia at the unhealthy is worth investigation. The elephant/rider metaphor, while not explicitly mentioned, was brought back my mind by the discussion on page 214 of research showing that emotional schemas have both non-verbal (elephant) and verbal (rider) components. The discussion notes that the verbal systems can serve to regulate the non-verbal. Specifically, on page 217 the authors state, “Thus, it appears that alexithymia is not a contraindication for CBT.” CBT is cognitive-behavior therapy. This would seem to confirm my impression that the more cognitive training programs such as the Penn Resiliency Program (for children) or The Resilience Factor (for adults) increase emotional intelligence.

Chapter 16: “Applying Emotional Intelligence and Treating Individuals with Severe Psychiatric Disorders: a Psychotherapeutic Model for Educating People to Be Emotionally Intelligent” Lana Stohl, David Dangerfield, Jeremy Christensen, David Justice and Douglas Mottonen

This is a description of a program that attempted to use EI training to improve the ability of psychiatric patients to successfully complete work training and gain employment. Since this is outside my core areas for interest, I made few notes and have no comments.

Chapter 17: “Assessing of Emotional Intelligence and Children: a Review of Existing Measures of Emotional and Social Competence” Sarah Stewart-Brown and Laurel Edmuds

Drs. Stewart-Brown and Edmunds are both involved in efforts to promote social competence in the educational system in the United Kingdom. I ran into this in facilitating training for United Kingdom teachers. Many noted their training began an experience with social-emotional learning in the school system. The actual construct discussed in Chapter, is not emotional intelligence, but “social competence”. This is a very broad construct encompassing behaviors, attitudes and understandings that support the development of good relationships and enable success and tasks involving others. The authors identified 33 instruments measuring emotional and/or social development developed since 1990. An additional 26 instruments were under development in 2003.

Primary purposes for the instruments include screening, profiling, and monitoring. Many focused on social competence with only some coverage of emotional competence. The authors describe instruments for pre-school and school-age children, including some that focus exclusively on social competence and others addressing negative behaviors and social incompetence. Each instrument gets one to three paragraphs describing its structure, focus, development, and application. I would think this would be helpful to those beginning a search for an instrument for a particular purpose. However, it might be necessary to contact the authors about the instruments that were in development in 2003.

Chapter 18: “Assessing Emotional Intelligence in Adults: a Review of the Most Popular Measures” David L. Van Rooy and Chockalingam Viswesvaran

This chapter obviously parallels the preceding one. However, it differs significantly in structure.

I found the section in pages 260 — 264 on “Measurement Issues in EI Assessment” helpful in understanding the whole field of EI. The authors note that assessment models of EI can be split into ‘mixed or trait-based models’ and ‘ability models’. Mixed or trait-based models are generally based on self-report and assess aspects of personality and cognitive intelligence in addition to the. Ability models are intended to the performance-based with a correct answer either determined by exports or based on the percentage of respondents selecting it. The authors note that the conceptualization of the domain of ‘EI’ has varied significantly. The other is therefore suggests that “a distillation of the content demand of EI through factor analyses and a more detailed construction of a nomological nets would represent a critical milestone in the conceptualization and measurement of this construct.” p. 261.

Next, the authors discuss six of the most well-known measures of EI. The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) is described as the only test coming from an ability model of the. It measures perception of the motion, use of a motion to facilitate thinking, understanding of emotion, and management of emotion. It correlates more highly with cognitive intelligence and less Hollywood personality than other measures. Scores appeared to increase with age, and gender and ethnic differences depend on the scoring method employed, consensus versus expert.

Bar-On’s Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) measures and intrapersonal, interpersonal, stress management, adaptability, and general mood. The authors note gender differences in subscale scores and the inclusion of gender- and age-specific norms in the scoring algorithm. Women generally scores more adept at understanding how others feel and relating with people. Man score higher in managing emotions. On balance, doctors indicate the instrument does not differentiate on the basis of sex, which may explain the statement that it is used extensively in selection settings.

The Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS) by Schutte, Malouff, Hall, et al. is a public domain instrument designed to be short and easy-to administer. This instrument correlates highly with personality and is likely a trait-based measure. The authors also noted susceptibility to test sabotage such as faking good. Group differences appear to favor protected groups.

The Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI) by Boyatzis and Goleman with the Hay Group is also a trait-based model. It measures 18 competencies clustered into self-awareness comes self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. This instrument is most accurate when the respondent’s writings are provided by others, and it is commonly used in a multi-writer assessment. Self-writings tend to be inflated. The authors note a significant lack of peer-reviewed literature on this assessment.

The Emotional Judgment Inventory (EJI) by Bedwell does not conform clearly to durability-or trait-taste assessment models. It focuses on seven dimensions of being aware of emotions, identifying one’s own emotions, identifying others’ emotions, managing one’s emotions, managing others’ emotions, using emotions in problem-solving, and expressing emotions adaptively. Females outscore males significantly on “being aware of emotions” and “using emotions and problem-solving.” Males outscore females on “managing one’s emotions.” Overall, female score higher. Scores increase with age but do not a very across racial groups.

The Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale (WLEIS) is a short, public-domain scale measuring self-emotion appraisal, uses of emotion, regulation of emotion, and others’ emotions appraisal. The authors note that it has been the least-researched of the scales, but that the two studies conducted to date have been of significant depth. The WLEIS correlates on average .30 with neuroticism and conscientiousness, and .17 with cognitive ability. Self-reports and multi-writer ratings do not correlate as highly as would be expected, thus suggesting the need of additional research on this measure.

Chapter 19: “The Anatomy of Emotional Intelligence and Implications for Educating People to Be Emotionally Intelligent” Antoine Bechara, Antonio R. Damasion, and Reuven Bar-On

This may have been the most useful chapter in the book for me. Since I began my reading in this area to deepen my understanding of those mental components not easily inspected consciously, i.e., “the elephant”, this chapter’s focus on brain structures and their role in learning proved quite helpful. The authors summarize research on how damage to the limbic system can affect emotional experience, cognitive processing, self-awareness and the ability to identify emotions in others.

I found the discussion of research utilizing the “Iowa Gambling Task” particularly enlightening. In this task, subjects are asked to draw 100 cards from four decks. The decks are arranged so that decks A and B pay off in higher amounts, but also include loss cards that cause them to ultimately produce a loss of $250 for every 10 cards selected. Decks C and D have smaller payoffs, but their loss cards are also much smaller with the result that every 10 cards selected results in a net gain of $250. Subjects in some experiments were connected to devices to measure skin conductance as an early indicator of emotional response. These experiments demonstrated that the subjects would consciously become aware of a preference for decks in the after drawing approximately 40 or 50 cards. However, the skin conductance showed an emotional response to reaching for decks A or B after only 10 cards! In addition, subjects with damage to the limbic system that hindered emotional response would continue to draw from decks A and B even after they consciously recognized that such actions were counterproductive.

The authors and by suggesting neurological mapping support for a six-factor model of EI composed of:

1. Emotional self-awareness,

2. Emotional (impulse) control,

3. Emotional expression,

4. Social awareness (empathy),

5. Social problem-solving, and

6. Social interaction.

Chapter 20: “Integrated Summary” Peter Salovey

Dr. Salovey reviews the chapters and concludes that schools, families and employers should encourage competency in

perceiving emotions in ourselves and others,

understanding and expressing ou emotions,

managing our emotions, and

using our emotions as sources of creativity, problem-solving, decision-making, and motivation.

Dr. Salovey also notes his concern about exuberant claims in the absence of convincing research. I share that concern, especially on applications being promoted to schools. Specifically, I would suggest that some of the cognitive-based interventions such as the Penn Resiliency Program might turn out to be more efficient and effective at educating for emotional intelligence than some of the school-1, resource-intensive programs described in this book. I do not know that, but I do think it is worth research.



Bar-On, R., Maree, J. G., & Jesse, M. (Eds.) (2007). Educating People to Be Emotionally Intelligent. Praeger.



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Emily 18 September 2007 - 9:09 am

Hello Dave

I had to respond to these book notes. In England the department for education and skills have just sent out guidelines to all schools for a taught emotional intelligence program (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning: SEAL) which is based on unsound theory (Goleman) and no evidence. Children will be marked and categorized according to their emotional intelligence and taught calming and managing techniques.

I nearly fell off my seat when I read Goleman’s statement ‘in a sense, this book represents the healing of a long standing wound in western civilization;’ this is the main problem with the SEAL report – It assumes that we all need fixed and that our children have serious deficits in this area. It also seems that we might end up being the problem by undermining our children in this way. The lack of empirical evidence such as randomized controlled trials and longitudinal studies means that we do not know how this is going to impact on our children in the long term. We do know from psychology that telling oneself ‘not to be anxious’ ends up making us feel more anxious. The SEAL pilot showed that it was negatively experienced by the boys and that the pre intervention scores for self-esteem and social skills etc were not even indicating that there was a problem. So why the need for a taught intervention in the first place?!!

What is even more worrying is that they are now claiming that children will be taught ‘happiness’. What they should be saying is that children will now be taught that they are to be judged and labeled on how emotionally intelligent they are. More worrying is that this curriculum will span 13 years of their lives. This curriculum is asking children to do things which most adults would feel uncomfortable doing.

Thanks for writing these book notes. You clearly illustrate the strengths, but also the pitfalls of the emotional intelligence literature. It seems clear that there is a need for more empirical evidence supporting the grand claims which are being made and which are guiding policy making.

I really enjoy reading your news


Dave Shearon 18 September 2007 - 11:47 am

Emily, when I and several of the authors on this blog were helping train teachers from the UK in the Penn Resiliency Program, I noticed the SEAL program in the biographical information for some of those teachers. As I indicate in the note, I suspect the 12-week PRP actually accomplishes a great deal of educating for emotional intelligence. Those teachers seemed to feel that the training they got in PRP would help them in their work with SEAL, and I suspect they are right.

Charles (Chuck) Wolfe 20 September 2007 - 1:09 pm

Hi Dave,

I enjoyed reading this review. As the author of chapter 12 and co-author of chapter 9, I have a some thoughts I would like to add. First, I agree that the success I am having with my emotion-based planning and problem-solving process is somewhat contingent on my own EI and coaching skills. However, it is important to note that I have taught the approach to others and they are also having significant success using it. I also want to make sure that readers of your site understand that the ability to imagine what someone else is feeling is critical to the success of the process. Information about other people’s emotions come to us through our ability to identify or see certain behaviors such as laughter, a warm smile, a shaky hand, sweating, a red face and so forth. We also get emotional data from our own ability to feel what someone else is feeling, i.e. emotional empathy and finally from understanding that specific types of events trigger certain emotions, such as loss of a loved one often evokes sadness. Having said all of this, it is important to understand that these abilities are not the same and that each of us has our unique abilities in these areas. For example I am average in identifying emotions in others through what I see, but very strong in identifying emotions in others by being able to feel what they feel (emotional empathy), and about understanding how specific events trigger certain emotions (intellectual empathy). So while the use of surveys is interesting and that is why I wrote about it, the use of each of our own abilities to focus on what others are feeling is truly key to what I am now describing as my Emotion Roadmap. I have found that when smart people are stuck, there are almost always strong emotions present, either within them, or with the people that they are dealing with. By helping people to recognize and focus on these emotions, and working with them to describe what is being felt by them and by whoever they are dealing with (the identification of emotion), and then exploring what would be ideal (the use of emotion), we unblock people’s creativity and generate all kinds of options. People are often amazed at their own ability to generate innovative ideas since before I engage them in this process they often are feeling somewhat helpless and stuck. And while you and I both have acknowledged my results are not in any quantifiable research, I do have all kinds of testimonials from people in business, schools and government from my clients and from other consultants who have learned the process from me. One other point worth noting is that the Emotion Roadmap can be used tactically to solve an existing problem and proactively to head off potential problems and minimize resistance when one is planning an event or significant change that will be unwelcome by certain members of your organization. In the first case you engage in specific emotion based problem solving methodology and in the second you use emotional planning along with change management methodology, i.e., you recognize your current state, envision a future state and plan for the transition states you will experience along the way. By focusing on the emotions of those who are key in either situation and using the Emotion Roadmap, you are almost guaranteed to achieve better results.

One other note, while my efforts are part of Chapter 9, they are modified to fit in with the work of the other authors. What I would like you to know since you have a strong interest in schools is that I think it is critical and highly innovative to teach my emotion roadmap to principals, teachers, parents, children and Board members. I think the potential is enormous and the opportunity limitless. I have not had schools as a focal point of my practice for a number of years but recently I have done some very interesting work in this area and I would be happy to correspond with you about it if you are interested.

Warm regards,
Chuck Wolfe

Dave Shearon 20 September 2007 - 10:31 pm

Thanks for the comment, Chuck!

Those developing applications do, I think, often have to go beyond the strict boundaries of experimental data in order to achieve effectiveness in a real-life situation. Schools, of course, despite what students (and sometimes teachers) think, are about as “real-life” as it gets!

I like your suggestion of three ways to “know” about the emotions of another:

1. Based on observations of conscious and unconscious behavior (some of the emotional signal work John Gottman uses),
2. Through the not-consciously-observable processes of emotional mirroring that allows us to directly feel what another is feeling (an “elephant” capability), and
3. By conscious reasoning from circumstances to emotion.

I’d suggest — and I recognize this may already be a part of your Emotional Roadmap system — that explicit training in activating-belief-consequence connections could help with both routes 1 and 3 (3 in particular), and might also help train the unconscious capabilities of route 2.

Let me also add that one of the beauties of your approach in my eyes is to take emotions — something many business folk (and LOTS of lawyers) want to take completely out of the analysis — and turns them neatly and efficiently into data to be put into the analysis! Since I believe emotions really are sensory systems providing us information about our world and our place and direction in it, that is a super useful effect!

I’ll look forward to learning more from you in this area.

Louis Alloro 21 September 2007 - 10:58 am

Dave / Chuck:

I, too, am interested in the application of positive psychology to schools and wonder if this notion of “thick” isn’t just part of deep-rooted school culture which is stuck in a “just the way it is” mentality. Teaching people to be aware of their emotional road maps may be part of the solution (and could be made quantifiable) but I wonder how institutional culture is really revised with lasting impact. It seems to me that training a principal here and a group of teachers there will not provide the lasting impact to reduce the “thick” that extends far beyond the confines of the school. Perhaps, then, it behooves us to think about community reform, where schools and families serve more micro functions of the efforts.


Louis Alloro
MAPP expected ’08

Chuck Wolfe 8 October 2007 - 11:25 am

Hi Louis,

I agree with your remark. My initial attempts to work with schools include teachers and principals, and students, and school boards, and parents. I believe in a holistic approach. The reality for schools and communities is the constant overload that people experience in both settings. There is no question in my mind that the tool I have created, i.e., the Emotion Roadmap is a piece of the puzzle for creating a positive meaningful difference in every venue you can think of, including schools, but each of us, trying to make a difference, compete with all kinds of other distractions, and with each other.

Nevertheless, I am fond of the old expression, a job worth doing is worth doing well and so we continue to make an impact wherever we can.

Warm regards,
Chuck Wolfe

Dave Shearon 8 October 2007 - 2:26 pm

Louis, I’ve thought about culture also. I try to keep in mind that a significant part of culture is the type of conversations we have and the language we use. So, changing culture can occur through changing conversations, and conversations can be changed through new shared vocabulary. Thus, developing a strengths focus and shared language through the VIA and Strengthsfinder instruments can help change culture. If such language is widely disseminated throughout a system, and particularly if it is well-understood and used by senior administrative leadership and elected leaders, it has a good chance of changing things systemically.


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