EQ vs IQ

What is IQ?

Intelligence quotient or IQ refers to a person’s intelligence measured against a series of predetermined norms based on a specific population group.

IQ tests, or cognitive tests as we prefer to call them, are useful in establishing where a person’s strengths and weaknesses lie.  They measure fluid and crystallised intelligence.  Results of IQ tests can be used to make decisions regarding school placement or where interventions need to be instituted.  It is often beneficial to assess a child who is functioning poorly at school to determine whether they require additional support, or whether their poor performance is related to other factors – it cannot be automatically assumed that somebody doing poorly at school is doing so because they do not have the cognitive capacity to perform better.  While there is an understanding that the results do not explain everything, they are a helpful indicator.

IQ tests do have limitations in the sense that they are normed on very specific groups of people. A test normalised in the UK, for example, will have to be interpreted with caution when used on our South African population.  Similarly, most of the assessment measures are developed in English, with a few translated into some of our African languages, although these are difficult to access. Assessing a non-English speaking child with an English test will provide the administrator with unreliable results.  Beware of online IQ tests. These tests are not standardized as official intelligence tests are, and can give inflated or entirely incorrect results.  They cannot be used to make informed decisions about somebody’s schooling or potential.


Multiple Intelligences

Many professionals discard the idea of an IQ test, stating that it is too limiting, and rather look at the multiple intelligences as developed by Dr Howard Gardner.  He lists visual-spatial, body-kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic and logical-mathematical learning styles as being a fairer and more appropriate measure of intelligence.

The implication with multiple types of intelligences is that there should be multiple methods in which to test these intelligences. A standard IQ test does not allow for testing of certain areas of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, such as body-kinaesthetic or musical.  Therefore alternate measures need to be constructed to ensure intelligence is tested fairly and that all learners have an equal opportunity.  More schools are moving away from conventional teaching and ways of understanding intelligence to these more encompassing and inclusive methods. Understanding of a child and adult’s intelligence cannot simply be measured in one dimension – and so many other factors need to be considered.


So what is EQ then?

Emotional quotient (EQ) is the ability of a person to identify their own emotions, as well as the feelings of others. It includes the ability to differentiate between feelings and to use emotions to guide behaviour and decisions.

It is not entirely possible to quantify EQ.  Many of the tests available have been questioned based on their reliability.  EQ tests are also susceptible to a certain amount of ‘faking’ on the part of the test taker, in order to provide socially acceptable responses.  In order to ascertain one’s ‘level’ of EQ it is worthwhile to reflect on how one solves problems, faces conflict and responds to stress and emotional challenges. The ability to understand the emotions of others in situations that are challenging for them, and the ability to correctly label one’s emotions are both aspects of one’s emotional quotient. If you are able to use emotions appropriately to guide decisions, thinking and behaviour and if you can recognise another person’s emotions then your EQ is likely in order.


What if my child is emotionally immature?

Being emotionally immature means that your child may struggle to overcome certain emotions and could get ‘stuck’ in the negativity.  It implies that one adopts coping strategies of those younger than them.   Emotional immaturity may create difficulty for a child – particularly when socialising with peers.  While all children may respond differently to conflict and difficulties, there is an expectation that one is able to deal with emotions at an age appropriate level.  Being stuck, and unable to do this can lead to difficulties in socialising with others, as a child who takes things “too seriously” or doesn’t “get over” something could be ousted by their peers. In a situation such as this it will be helpful to teach your child social skills and help them in becoming more emotionally mature and equipped to handle conflict or situations that may arise socially or at home. Schools will generally offer social skills lessons during life orientation where learners are taught these skills in their peer groups or classes.


EQ vs IQ

When applying for jobs, EQ is considered to be an important factor.  Some research has shown that people with a higher EQ level are more successful candidates in their careers, their leadership skills are better and they are mentally healthier.  However, a job such as a doctor will require a candidate to have gone through rigorous and difficult studying and coursework. In this case, as well as with others, IQ is important. A candidate with a below average IQ will likely not cope with the demands of a medical course, even if their EQ is high.

A high IQ does not mean somebody will have a high EQ, and vice versa.  However, a person with a lower IQ may struggle to develop and learn a healthy EQ, for example. EQ is of utmost importance in interpersonal relationships as it allows for effective communication between people, and an understanding of others on an emotional level.  No level of IQ can take the place of interpersonal relationships and the importance they have in our lives as human beings.

Both IQ and EQ are important, but they are important for different reasons.  It is impossible to ascertain which is more or less important, as they both serve a different purpose in the lives of human beings.  Different situations will call for higher levels of one or the other.  While tests are available to determine a person’s level of IQ or EQ it is important to know that a person cannot be defined in quantifiable terms and there is always so much more to them than just their intelligence or emotional quotient.

Written for Mamas and Papas Magazine


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