63 pages 2 hours read

Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1995

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Summary and Study Guide


In Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goleman discusses how The Components of Emotional Intelligence, like self-awareness, empathy, and social skills, shape an individual’s life. He explores key themes, such as The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Personal and Professional Success, The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Traditional IQ, and Emotional Intelligence Affecting Mental Health and Interpersonal Relationships.

This guide refers to the 1995 Bantam Books hardcover edition.

Content Warning: The source text and this guide contain discussions related to mental health conditions, trauma, violence, and emotional distress.


Goleman explores the significance of emotional skills and their impact on personal, professional, and social aspects of life, reiterating that emotional intelligence is a crucial factor for success and well-being. The book is divided into six parts.

In Part 1, Goleman introduces the concept of emotional intelligence as a response to the pervasive challenges of emotional disarray in modern society. Goleman explores the evolutionary role of emotions and emphasizes their significance in guiding human decisions and actions. The chapters in this section discuss the fundamental role of emotions in human life, the clash between evolutionary emotions and modern challenges, and the relationship between the emotional and rational minds. Goleman introduces the concept of emotional hijacking, exemplified by tragic real-life incidents, and he explores the neural mechanisms, particularly the amygdala, that trigger impulsive emotional responses. The section sets the stage for the exploration of emotional intelligence as a crucial factor in individual success and societal harmony, and it challenges the traditional separation of reason and emotion.

Part 2 delves into the nature of emotional intelligence and emphasizes its role in various aspects of life, from impulse control to understanding others’ feelings. In this part, Goleman refers to the disconnect between academic intelligence and emotional intelligence. He challenges the conventional emphasis on IQ by presenting emotional intelligence as a significant predictor of success, encompassing crucial skills like self-awareness, impulse control, and empathy. Goleman introduces The Components of Emotional Intelligence and explores The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Personal and Professional Success.

Goleman continues Part 2 by exploring the impact of emotions on cognitive abilities. Goleman also explores the contagious nature of emotions, the mastery of social skills, and the challenges faced by individuals with deficiencies in nonverbal communication. Goleman emphasizes the lifelong impact of early social interactions on personal and academic success.

In Part 3, Goleman explores the practical applications of emotional intelligence across various aspects of life. He examines the role of emotional intelligence in relationships and highlights its crucial impact on marital success and the ability to overcome conflicts. He extends the discussion to the workplace and stresses the importance of emotional intelligence in effective leadership, communication, and diversity management. The focus then shifts to the intersection of emotional intelligence and health as Goleman explores the field of psychoneuroimmunology and demonstrates the impact of emotions on physical well-being. Goleman supports his arguments with clinical data and studies while highlighting the interconnectedness of emotional and physical health.

In Part 4, Goleman explores the lifelong impact of emotional intelligence, focusing on the role of parenting in shaping a child’s emotional development. Goleman discusses emotionally inept parenting styles and the positive effects of emotionally intelligent parenting on children’s well-being. Moreover, he discusses the lasting effects of traumatic experiences and emphasizes the possibility of emotional relearning and recovery. Goleman explores the interplay between genetics and environment in shaping temperamental traits. He discusses how early experiences can modify innate predispositions and refers to the plasticity of the brain in childhood and the crucial window of opportunity for emotional development. Goleman highlights the importance of nurturing and guidance in childhood to instill positive emotional habits and prevent long-term emotional challenges.

The final part highlights the severe consequences of emotional illiteracy and emphasizes the need for explicit education on handling emotions and resolving conflicts in schools. In this part, Goleman illustrates the societal impact of emotional deficiencies, citing alarming statistics on rising juvenile crime rates, teen pregnancies, and mental health conditions. Goleman explores the correlation between emotional skills and preventing mental health conditions and distress in children and advocates for early intervention through emotional competence programs. Furthermore, Goleman discusses the implementation of emotional intelligence education in schools and refers to the importance of emotional literacy as a preventive measure, integrated into regular education.