This thought comes from a conversation with a friend at work. We are now being asked to assess potential students Emotional Intelligence. We give them a couple of stories and invite them to respond to the content. The idea being that this gives us an insight into their E.I. "score".

In  our conversation about this concept several problems were identified.

1. What is E.I.? Has it been defined accurately?

2. How can we measure it? (Paralells to the I.Q. debates come to mind!)

3. If we can measure it, what kind of rating scale might we use? I don't think the 10 E.S.C. covers this.

4. And how might a student move up or down the scale?


Your musings would be much appreciated.





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Hi Terry a colleague and I are completing a longitudinal study in respect of EI and the contribution of SW education to its development.  Might be interesting to chat sometime?



I wonder what you might do with any info you get from this. Not dsaying it's necessarily pointless but I think you'd need to be careful.

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose emotional management skills and emotional competence (if that's what you mean) dramatically improved as a result of my pre reg training.

I think it important that such a project wouldn't become analogous with expecting significant psych knowledge before beginning to teach them aobut psych.



I don't know about Amanda's project, but we're now trying to measure the E.I. of potential students with no clear idea of what E.I. actually is.Slightly unfair on all concerned!





Good luck with that then, Terry.





Hi Terry

Have you seen the recent mhhe resource on Developing emotional intelligence, resilience and skills for maintaining personal wellbeing in students of health and social care? As well as listing a number of resources you may find helpful, I feel that the emphasis on developing EI in the context of maintaining wellbeing is somewhat different from the idea that the possession of a certain degree of EI is necessary to enter a professional degree.


Hi Bob can you post a link to those resources thanks?
In my experience Emotional Intelligence can be developed so I think it might be more appropriate to gauge students' awareness of gaps in their skills and willingness  work on them?
It's on the mhhe website @

It's here Matt:



Been thinking about this today in light of the Positive Psychology research which suggests testing for growth mindsets (Carol Dweck) and GRIT!

Hi Terry,

You do raise some interestsing problems with EI and I suppose there is a cautionary note in making the connection with IQ.  Aside from the fact that IQ measures zip, its roots are firmly in the eugenics movement of 19th and early 20th century assessing 'feeblemindedness' with degrees of the moron, idiot and imbecile. In fact on introduction to the US education system the measurement of IQ resulted in a panic about the extent to which the US had 'morons' in mainstream education! I guess as soon as we start to measure something along these lines we demarcate the folk that score low or little. Thats not to say that EI shouldn't have qualities that folk feel and demonstrate- but certainly my EI changes across the day- catch me on a morning before coffee and you'll get a different feel of my EI.  Would it be helpful to think of this as less trait, and more state dependent?  Perhaps students could think about whether they demonstrate quailities of EI in different situations, and that this might give intererting points of reflection on ideas like transference, countertransference, other psychological defences...


Hi Terry


Haven't got time to read this (!) but there is a relevant looking article in the latest edition of SW education. Meirav Hen & Marina Goroshit (2011): Emotional Competencies in the Education of Mental Health Professionals, Social Work Education, 30:7, 811-829


Abstract: The results of empirical research suggest that the ability to assess, regulate, and utilize

emotions is important to the performance of health professionals. Nevertheless, few

professional programs adequately address this matter in their curricula. The main objective

of the present research was to examine whether emotional intelligence and empathy could be

improved in the traditional classroom, employing experiential teaching modes. Pre- and

post-questionnaires were used to assess the emotional competencies of 165 social work

undergraduate students. The results indicated an increase in emotional intelligence at the

end of a course for advanced-year students. Overall empathy had not increased for both

first- and advanced-year students. Further findings indicated significant correlation

between empathy and emotional intelligence at the end of a course for advanced-year

students compared with an insignificant correlation at the beginning of the course, whereas

for first-year students, findings were in the opposite direction. Future research should focus

on strategies for the teaching and professional training of social workers that promote

emotional competencies.


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