Here’s an interesting article from the journal Japanese Psychological Research looking at Emotional Intelligence, twenty years after the concept was first developed. The idea of EI a big impact on British education via the school subject, Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL), which was inspired by Daniel Goleman’s pop psychology best-seller, Emotional Intelligence, and launched by New Labour in 2002. The authors suggest that EI was too broad a concept to be conceptually coherent, covering everything from information-processing to emotional self-regulation to being a morally good person. The search for a single conceptual definition of EI proved elusive, as did the search for proper measurements of it. The authors also say there were cross-cultural issues with trying to create one universal definition of EI:
In writing for Japanese Psychological Research, we wish particularly to highlight cultural issues. The extent to which EI, as a construct derived largely from Western psychology, could be universally applicable remains unclear. Although basic emotions are considered universal, display rules and other aspects of emotional functioning may be culture- bound (Mesquita, 2001). Thus, adaptive emotional behaviors may vary from culture to culture. Also, research on EI tends to focus on possible benefits for the individual such as personal well-being and social and career success.A concept of EI relevant to East Asian cultures may be different in several respects from the Western model. First, such cultures have a more collectivist experience of both positive and negative emotions. For example, Japanese people appear to be more prone to socially engaging emotions, such as friendly feelings and guilt, whereas North Americans experience disengaging emotions, such as pride and anger, more intensely (Kitayama, Mesquita, & Karasawa, 2006). Furthermore, in Japan, general subjective well-being is more closely linked to engaging one’s positive emotions than to dis- engaging emotions, a pattern that tends to reverse in the USA (Kitayama et al., 2006). Thus, if EI is defined in relation to emotions that promote personal well-being, its conceptualization would be somewhat different in the two countries. At the same time, we should not ignore cross-cultural similarities in emotional functioning. For example, although Japanese and Chinese respondents obtain lower average scores on self-esteem scales, relative to the USA, self-esteem appears to have the same functional relationship to well-being in all these cultures (Yamaguchi, Lin, Morio, & Okumura, 2008).
Second, there may be cross-cultural differences in the intrinsic value placed on emotions. In Western thought, following Darwin, all emotions are seen as essentially adaptive, although sometimes subject to misregulation. By contrast, Ekman, Davidson, Ricard, and Wallace (2005) point out that Indo-Tibetan Buddhism sees certain emotions as being intrinsically beneficial or harmful. Examples of the latter are cravings for some desirable object, hatred, jealousy, and arrogance (compare, for example, Buss’s, (2000) evolutionary account of jealousy).Interestingly, Ekman et al. (2005) also describe trait-like concepts from Buddhism that might loosely be seen as corresponding to high and low EI. The Sanskrit term “sukha” refers to a condition of happiness and flourishing that reflects mental equilibrium and awareness of the true nature of reality. Conversely, “duhkha” expresses a vulnerability to suffering resulting from basic misapprehensions of reality, including harmful emotional reactions. Third, Western theories of emotion are prone to fractionate the construct into multiple psychological processes (or even brain systems). Much writing on EI is based on the idea of a sharp separation of cognition and emotion, expressed in the classical metaphor of the charioteer (cognition) steering the horses that pull the chariot (emotion) (Leahy, 2007), although some authors have argued for a more integrated perspective (Averill, 2007). By contrast, “Eastern healing traditions respect individuals as unique entities living in the fluid dynamics of complex personal-relational, environmental- physical and philosophical-moral interactions of men with the universe” (Chan, Ng, Ho, & Chow, 2006).Similarly, Ekman et al. (2005) point out that Buddhism does not make sharp distinctions between emotions and other mental processes. From these holistic perspectives on emotional and spiritual well-being, it may be difficult to sustain the Western notion of EI as a distinctive “thing in the head” of the individual. Thus far, studies of EI have largely ignored such cultural factors. Typically, researchers have taken English-language tests for EI and trans- lated them into other languages with the aim of comparing psychometric properties across cultures, with rather mixed outcomes (Ekermans, Saklofske, Austin, & Stough, 2011; Sharma, Deller, Biswal, & Mandal, 2009). In Japan, psy- chometric studies include those reported by Fukunishi, Wise, Sheridan, Shimai, Otake, Utsuki, and Uchiyama (2001) and Toyoda and Kawahashi (2005). However, the mean differences in test scores sometimes reported are hard to interpret, in the absence of any theory relevant to interpreting cultural differences. Doubts about the construct validity of EI also make it difficult to perform meaningful cross- cultural comparisons.
‘the world is as the mind sees and feels it; the world is as the mind thinks of it’
Thinking of objects, attachment to them is formed in a man. From attachment longing, and from longing anger grows. From anger comes delusion, and from delusion loss of memory. From loss of memory comes the ruin of discrimination, and from the ruin of discrimination, he perishes.
Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox….”He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me” — for those who brood on this, hostility isn’t stilled. “He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me” — for those who don’t brood on this, hostility is stilled.