Keynote DAY 3
What is emotional intelligence (“EQ!”), and how should and shouldn’t we talk about it and why?

Dr Reuven Bar-On

This keynote address will close the conference focusing on what emotional intelligence is and is not, and how we should and should not talk about it -- the good, the bad and the ugly. The presentation will review the historical background of the construct, concept and term to put things in correct perspective; and within this context, the South African origins of the Bar-On model of emotional-social intelligence will be revealed. This presentation will stress the potentially damaging effects of over-enthusiastic practitioners not knowing what emotional intelligence is, how best to apply it and how they should talk about it.


Reuven Bar-On has worked as a clinical psychologist since 1972, after receiving an MA in psychology from Pepperdine University in the United States. He later earned his doctorate in psychology at Rhodes University in South Africa and currently holds an adjunct faculty appointment at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he is in charge of directing EI-related research. In addition to conducting research and lecturing on emotional intelligence, Dr. Bar-On has supervised graduate students researching various aspects of this topic. He is also affiliated with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) at the University of Illinois; and, more recently, he has been invited to be a senior consultant in the area of EI assessment at the Center for Social and Emotional Education (CSEE) in New York. Additionally, he was accepted into the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations (CREIO) at Rutgers University as the first non-founding member.
Dr. Bar-On is an internationally acknowledged expert and pioneer in the field of emotional intelligence and has been involved in defining, measuring and applying various aspects of this construct since 1980. The “Bar-On model” is described as one of three leading approaches to emotional intelligence in Spielberger’s Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology [2004]. He coined the term “E.Q.” (“Emotional Quotient”) in 1985 to describe his approach to assessing emotional and social functioning. This term first appeared in a copy of his doctoral dissertation (p. 419), which was sent to two internal readers at Rhodes University and one external reader at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. His idea of an EQ was more formally developed in a presentation (“The Era of the EQ: Defining and Assessing Emotional Intelligence”) delivered at the 104th Annual Conference of the American Psychological Association in 1996. He created the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (the EQ-i), which is the first test of emotional intelligence to be published by a psychological test publisher [1997] and peer-reviewed in the Buros Mental Measurement Yearbook [1999]; the EQ-i passed the one million mark worldwide five years following its publication, making it the most popularly-used EI measure. He co-authored the Bar-On EQ-i:YV, which is the first commercially available test designed to assess emotionally and socially intelligent behavior in children [2000]; in addition to being favorably reviewed in the Buros Mental Measurement Yearbook [2001], it has been selected by psychometricians at the University of Oxford as the test of choice for assessing emotional and social competence in children and was recommended for use in schools in the United Kingdom [2003]. He also co-edited the Handbook of Emotional Intelligence [2000], which is one of the first academic texts on this topic; and he has recently completed co-editing an additional book in this area, Educating People to Be Emotionally Intelligent [2007]. Based on a training manual he wrote with Richard Handley, Optimizing People [1999], he co-authored the first Internet-delivered training program designed to improve EI competencies and skills. With Dr. Handley, he also developed the EQ-360 and the EQ-Interview [2003], two additional EI measures.
Dr. Bar-On has been involved in numerous research projects related to emotional intelligence for more than a quarter of a century. An example includes a three-year study in the Israeli Defense Forces that empirically demonstrates the impact of EI on performance as well as its ability to predict command leadership. He has also analyzed and summarized the findings of an extensive research project conducted by Marian Ruderman at the Center for Creative Leadership (US) that confirms the ability of EI to identify and predict successful corporate leaders. Together with Carolyn Saarni, he is currently involved in a 25-year longitudinal study of 23,000 youth to determine the inter-relationship between EI and biomedical, cognitive, developmental, social and educational factors; this study, which is being conducted by Human Resources Development Canada, represents the first longitudinal EI study and is expected to shed light on how this construct develops, what affects it and what is affected by it. Dr. Bar-On has also been involved in research projects examining the neurological substrate of emotional-social intelligence as well as its impact on physical and psychological disorders. Together with colleagues at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, he co-authored the first peer-reviewed paper on the neurological basis of EI [Brain, 2003]; this paper has been expanded into a chapter appearing in a textbook on the neurology of psycho-social functioning in 2005. On an ongoing basis in the corporate world moreover, Dr. Bar-On is also involved in developing EI models that predict performance and are used in hiring, training and succession planning.
This is what Daniel Goleman said about Reuven Bar-On’s involvement in emotional intelligence [2003]: “Your work is leading the way in moving this field forward.”
Dr. Bar-On’s work has been described in encyclopedias, books, journals and presentations as well in numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews around the world. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 works on this topic. Additionally, he has reviewed manuscripts related to emotional intelligence for peer-reviewed journals and has been asked to be a guest editor for one of these journals (a special edition on educating people to be emotionally and socially intelligent that was published by Perspectives in Education in 2003). He has also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Humanities, South African Journal of Education and the South African Journal of Sciences and Technology. He has recently been nominated to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria for his contribution to the field of emotional intelligence.