You’ve probably heard of Intelligence Quotient (IQ). It’s a measure of raw, analytical, numerical intelligence. Einstein and Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” had high IQs. But our understanding of intelligence has expanded — it’s not just about being smart with numbers, but also knowing how people work. Enter EQ.
EQ, or Emotional Quotient, is a measure of how good you are at understanding yourself and other people. If Einstein is a stereotypically high-IQ dude, his EQ equivalent would be Buddha or Dolly Parton.
We’re going to delve into the differences between IQ and EQ, how they shape our understanding of intelligence, and figure out once and for all whether the Tin Man or the Scarecrow got a better deal from the Wizard.
The above gives you a broad view of what EQ and IQ mean. That was the super-simplified version though. As you can imagine, there’s a whole bunch of science reasons and research that fully explains why EQ and IQ aren’t the same things, and why both are important when determining somebody’s overall intelligence.
How are EQ and IQ linked?
EQ and IQ aren’t mutually exclusive. There are plenty of folks who score very highly in both. As they’re both measures of intelligence, there’s understandably some overlap between them. Our neurons and synapses’ ability to fire off and receive signals determines both our EQ and IQ. It’s all about how our brain talks to itself.
A study of Vietnam veterans with different types of brain damage found that those with high IQ also assessed for high EQ and vice versa. On the other hand, brain injuries that impacted one also impacted the other. There was no situation in which damage to the brain resulted in exclusive IQ or EQ setbacks.
The reason some folks have high amounts of one or the other is that it’s possible to train and cultivate both. Yes, genetics can influence EQ and IQ, but there are various brain workouts you can do to boost either (we go into that a bit more below).
Is IQ or EQ more important?
Both are important. It depends on why you’re asking and what you’re trying to do. A high EQ won’t really help you during a math test, but a high IQ might have you overintellectualizing emotional situations when your grieving mate just needs a f*cking hug. There’s a time to be Tony Stark and a time to be Steve Rogers.
A common misconception is that a high IQ automatically means better job performance. While there is one hell of a lot of high achievers at the top end of the IQ spectrum, recent research has shown that IQ is only one piece of the clever pie.
EQ has been causing a buzz in the business world since Daniel Goleman wrote about it in his 1995 book (Michael Beldoch first coined the term in 1964, but the world wasn’t ready for his reckless science trailblazing back then). EQ being a popular concept for the business world is noteworthy, because it may have links to career success, and folks with high EQ have larger salaries on average.
Outside of the boardroom, having a high EQ also makes you better at being married. That’s a useful skill if “not dying alone” is one of your life goals. Having Big EQ Energy might make dealing with acute stress much easier. This might have something to do with high-EQ peeps’ sick spouse game.
That doesn’t mean that IQ is useless for folks who don’t play chess or design rockets. High childhood IQ has been linked to a reduced risk of dementia in later life, and earlier research has suggested that a higher than average IQ may contribute to a longer than average life expectancy.
But which is “better” doesn’t actually matter. You can train and develop either skill. If you want to be a highly successful 110-year-old dementia-free super spouse, this is entirely possible (although, we imagine, pretty tough).
You don’t need a brain scan to measure IQ and EQ. There’s a boatload of tests you can do for both which give a good indicator of how you score. You can complete some on your own at home. Others, you’d need to take in a commercial setting.
Common IQ tests
Despite what your aunt’s profile says, you can’t accurately measure IQ with a clickbait quiz on Facebook. You can accurately measure it with any of these logic, reasoning, and problem-solving tests:
- Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
- Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities
- Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test
IQ tests break intelligence into two categories. Common IQ tests tend to measure:
- Crystallized intelligence. This is a measure of your knowledge and verbal ability. Usually, it improves as you age.
- Fluid intelligence. This is your reasoning ability, as well as a measurement of abstract thinking and problem-solving. Fluid intelligence covers how good you are at solving problems in areas you have little-to-no previous knowledge of.
These are the most common IQ tests, but there are others. For example, tests like the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence and Raven’s Progressive Matrices measure IQ while taking nonverbal ability into account.
Common EQ tests
You can measure emotional intelligence with several tests:
- Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Tests
- Situational Tests of Emotional Management
- Situational Tests of Emotional Understanding
- Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy
There are five key areas of emotional intelligence that EQ tests tend to measure:
Pour enough XP into these and you’ll gain levels in your Care Bear abilities. These aren’t the only distinctions on EQ tests though. Some divide your EQ talents into two categories:
- Ability intelligence. This is how well you can use your EQ to solve problems. If you’re good at navigating and steering conversations and social situations congrats, you have a high Ability intelligence. This is Mr. Rogers–flavored EQ.
- Trait intelligence. This is your ability to look inward and understand your own feelings and emotions. This is Buddha-flavored EQ.
Problems with measuring IQ and EQ
While measuring IQ and EQ is super easy, it isn’t without controversy. (Gosh, science, you and your controversies — what are you, Kanye?)
There are plenty of factors that can affect or skew the data on both:
- Economic status. This makes measuring childhood IQ in particular especially difficult.
- Social inequality. This may stifle the expression of certain genes relating to IQ.
- The standard of education a person has had access to. Education has a huge impact on both IQ and EQ.
- Inadequate nutrition. This especially applies during childhood.
- Trauma. Again particularly if experienced in childhood.
Having a high EQ and IQ might make success an easier task. Conversely, having low scores in either means life is always going to feel a little bit like you’re playing it on hard mode.
But don’t fret. If your brain box is lacking in head-smarts or heart-smarts you can pump up both with some simple mental exercises.
How can you improve your IQ/EQ?
If you’ve seen films like “Limitless” or “Lucy” and are expecting a sci-fi super pill that makes you so smart you get superpowers, we’re going to leave you feeling disappointed.
Improving your EQ or IQ is as simple as feeding your brain the right stimuli. Want higher IQ? Work out your IQ muscles. Higher EQ? The same, but with feeling.
IQ boosting activities include:
- Memory activities like jigsaw puzzles or sudoku.
- Activities that stimulate executive function. Examples include games like Scrabble, Pictionary, or brain teasers.
- Visuospatial reasoning abilities like mazes or a Where’s Waldo book.
- Training relational skills. This can be done with activities like language learning.
- Learning a musical instrument.
- Reading and continued education. Basically, learning new stuff makes you better at learning new stuff.
Increasing EQ is a little different. Rather than plugging away at specific activities it’s more about learning and training your emotional responses. If you’re looking for EQ boosting pastimes, give these a whirl:
- Use assertive communication.
- Study and practice active listening.
- Learn the difference between responding and reacting to conflict.
- Practice self-awareness.
- Learn to stay motivated and cultivate a positive outlook.
- Practice empathy.
- Learn to take criticism well.
Obviously, nurturing your EQ skills is a little trickier than learning the Saxophone or memorizing the digits of pi. There are plenty of training courses, videos, and guidebooks available for increasing your EQ.
You’ll be pleased to know that fostering these EQ-boosting soft skills isn’t as tricky as it looks. Your personality is a lot more flexible than you realize.
IQ was a pretty lonely concept until EQ came along. Identifying and cataloging all the Qs we can use to measure brainpower is an exciting frontier of cognitive science. Here are some of the other Qs the brain-people have identified.
SQ: Spiritual Quotient
SQ measures your spiritual intelligence. Before you get excited, this isn’t a measure of your ability to talk to ghosts or perform exorcisms. Spiritual intelligence covers your awareness and understanding of:
- how to find meaning (like of life/living)
- living by personal values/a moral compass
- growing and showing compassion
Fun SQ fact: it can be super useful for nurses and healthcare professionals.
PQ: Physical Quotient
PQ measures your physical intelligence. While there’s still some debate around the validity of PQ, neuroscience research has suggested it may be legit.
PQ is usually used as a measure of your understanding/awareness around:
AQ: Adaptability Quotient
AQ is quickly stealing EQ’s thunder as the darling quotient of boardrooms and businesses. Your AQ is a measure of your ability to adapt to and overcome adversity.
A relatively new concept, it stems from the book Adapt or Die. It’s been causing quite a stir in the business world, although there’s currently little scientific research on AQ to verify its existence or offer insight into its benefits outside of money making.
However, AQ has been a useful concept for understanding and helping the children of immigrants struggling to integrate into a new society.
Hopefully you feel fully Q-ualified to talk about Quotients. Here’s a recap of what we’ve covered:
IQ is a measure of cold logical intelligence, EQ is a measure of fuzzy feelings intelligence. They’re both linked, so you can have a high EQ and a high IQ. There are loads of benefits to having high EQ and IQ scores.
Whilst the science isn’t conclusive, there’s strong evidence to suggest you can boost your scores in either with a bit of brain training. But measuring IQ/EQ is a bit sketchy as there are lots of environmental factors which can impact test scores.
There are also loads of other Q’s out there, like SQ, PQ, and AQ.