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Schmidt Comments on Emotional Intelligence

A story about the study of "emotional intelligence" says that contrary to common perception, traditional tests of general mental ability (GMA) or IQ do not measure some single, fixed genetic aptitude. They measure a variety of mental skills, as well as the ability to learn--qualities that are partly linked to genes. These generally include numeric ability, verbal fluency and spatial aptitude (the ability to rotate and visualize objects mentally). Each of these skills functions differently in each individual: A mechanic may have sublime spatial skills but limited numeric ability, and vice versa for an accountant. But the idea is that by measuring several things at once you detect an intelligence that shares all three, said FRANK SCHMIDT, an industrial psychologist who studies intelligence testing at the University of Iowa. Psychologists have been searching for ways to improve the effectiveness of the GMA test for about a century but have not been able to do so, Schmidt said. A person who scores high on a 15- to 30-minute general mental ability test goes on to become a productive and valued employee about 50 percent of the time, his research shows. Although thousands of studies have looked at GMA, there is scant research about emotional intelligence, Schmidt said. But, he adds, "there's no question that people like the sound of emotional intelligence much better than they do things like 'general mental ability' or 'IQ.'"

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