Difference between IQ and EQ

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Difference between IQ and EQ

This article aims to explore the main difference between IQ and EQ. IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient whereas EQ stands for Emotional Quotient. There has been extensive research on both concepts and the researchers have debated whether one is more important than the other. Surely IQ and EQ are two different things; however, they are not opposite to each other as some people may think.

Definition of IQ

IQ refers to a measure of someone’s intelligence found from special tests (Cambridge Dictionary, 2019). It is the total score an individual obtains from several standardized tests devised to assess cognitive intelligence. William Stern, a German psychologist and psychologist, introduced the term in 1912.

IQ tests aim to assess an individual’s reasoning and problem-solving abilities. Though there are many tests available, most IQ tests are designed to assess the individual’s visual, mathematical, language abilities as well as memory and information processing speed (Wilson, 2014). When the results of all the tests are put together, it becomes a person’s IQ. However, according to Richard Nisbett, a University of Michigan psychology professor, IQ tests neither measure creativity nor curiosity.

Definition of EQ

EQ refers to a measurement of a person’s emotional intelligence i.e. their ability to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others (Cambridge Dictionary, 2019). Researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer introduced the term EQ; however, it was popularized by Daniel Goleman in 1998.  According to Goleman (1998) emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.

The current framework of Goleman’s emotional intelligence consists of four dimensions i.e. Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management and twenty competencies. The twenty competencies are emotional self-awareness, accurate self-assessment, self-confidence (Self-Awareness), self-control, trustworthiness, Conscientiousness, adaptability, achievement drive, initiative (Self-Management), empathy, service organisation, organisational awareness (Social Awareness), developing others, influence, communication, conflict management, leadership, change catalyst, building bonds, and teamwork & collaboration (Relationship Management).

Difference between IQ and EQ

The main difference between IQ and EQ are as follows:

IQ is about a person’s abilities of logical reasoning, while EQ is about their level of emotional intelligence.

IQ tests measure general intelligence, whereas EQ tests measure the emotional intelligence of an individual.

IQ is about inborn abilities. On the other hand, people can learn and improve their emotional intelligence.

IQ helps people at school, college, and university, whereas EQ helps them succeed in life.

What is more important – IQ or EQ?

An individual may be very good in processing information (cognitive intelligence); however, it does not mean that he/she will be very good in social settings as well. Likewise, a person may be very good in numerical calculations; however, weak in teamwork. IQ used to be considered the primary determinant of success; however, many psychologists and academics argue that EQ is more important than IQ to succeed in life.

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Last update: 02 November 2019


Cambridge Dictionary (2019) IQ, available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/iq (accessed 02 November 2019)

Goleman, D. (1988) An EI-Based Theory of Performance, available at: http://www.eiconsortium.org/pdf/an_ei_based_theory_of_performance.pdf (accessed 20 October 2019)

Wilson, J. (2014) What your IQ score doesn’t tell you, available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/19/health/iq-score-meaning/index.html (accessed 02 November 2019)

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Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan University and London South Bank University.