Emotional Resilience Blog from The Fear Course

The latest research, realisations and thinking in the world of emotional resilience, anxiety and fear reduction from around the world.

Is it better to have a high EQ or a high IQ? New research.

Is it better to have a high EQ or a high IQ? New research.

Is it better to have a high EQ or a high IQ?

Transcript

An intriguing study from Switzerland has just been published looking at the effects of IQ (Intelligence) and EI (Emotional Intelligence) on how others perceive and evaluate us. Just because you have a high IQ does not mean you will have a high EI and vice versa.


Anyway the study from the University of Lucerne looked at whether people would evaluate people with high IQ better than people with a high EI during a presentation task.
What the study found was that when doing presentations individuals low in IQ but high in EI performed as well (were evaluated by strangers as highly) as the high IQ individuals. In effect people with high EI tend to be able to compensate and level the playing field, during initial evaluation of their performance compared with people with higher IQ's.

 

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Reference
Fiori, M (2014) Emotional intelligence compensates for low IQ and boosts low emotionality individuals in a self-presentation task. Personality and Individual Differences. Sept.2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.08.013

 

 

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Why task focus can cause a lack of empathy: Soldiers, bullies, criminals and emotional literacy

Why task focus can cause a lack of empathy: Soldiers, bullies, criminals and emotional literacy

Following on from the other blogs in this series looking at emotional literacy; Emotional Literacy: what it is and it's role in bullying both in school and the workplace and How the Gruffalo develops emotional literacy, emotional intelligence and emotion regulation, I want to look at what happens when we get task focussed.

A series of studies have shown links between crime and the level of ability of the individual to be able to empathise. The issue is if we don't have empathy with others then abuse is easy. It is usually our empathy that is the basis of our morality and codes of ethics. the fact that you probably wouldn't put a real gun to someones head and pull the trigger has more to do with empathy than having learned it is wrong by rote. The ability to kill or abuse for example usually requires some form of objectification or dehumanisation first. This can be because of a lack of emotional literacy and emotional intelligence, due to training or just simply being focussed on a end goal or task.

During World War 2 the historian S.L.A. Marshall conducted a study of combat troops which showed that in combat only about 15-25% of combat troops actually fired a weapon with the intention to kill even when they were under fire themselves. As a result of this and other studies military training was changed to improve what is known as the 'kill ratio' by having the soldiers objectify or dehumanize 'the enemy' and having them focus on the task and skills of killing r operating the machinery of killing.

Earlier this year (2013) a study was published in the journal Neuroimage which showed the pathways of dehumanisation and objectification - called the task positive network (TPN) or Task Related Network (TRN). There are two networks in the brain come into play when we are either empathising or objectifying. The first network operates when a person is focussed on internal processes, such as recognising our own feelings or self-referential thought like empathy called the Default Mode Network (DMN). When a person is focussed on action or carrying out tasks without reference to their emotions the area of the brain which is operating is the Task Positive Network (TPN).

In two studies published earlier this year researchers from the Department of Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, US found that when when an individual is dehumanising or objectifying others the Default Mode Network (DMN) shows lower levels of activity and the Task Positive Network (TPN) shows higher levels of activity.

It would appear from a series of studies that the TPN and DMN work like a see-saw. When we are focussed on a task or achieving a goal the activity in the DMN reduces and vice versa. Task focus can produce a lack of empathy if the individual doesn't check back inside.
It would appear that people who lack the capabilities inherent in emotional literacy are less likely to check internally before acting against another. They objectify others readily, focus on the task (bullying or robbery for example) with little or no recourse to self-referential thought which is the precursor to empathy.

Emotional literacy programmes have been shown to be effective in redressing the balance.

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References

French, S. E., & Jack, A. I. (in revision). Dehumanizing the Enemy: The Intersection of Neuroethics and Military Ethics. In D. Whetham (Ed.), The Responsibility to Protect: Alternative Perspectives: Martinus Nijhoff. Due in print April 2014

Jack, A. I., Dawson, A. J., & Norr, M. E. (2013). Seeing human: Distinct and overlapping neural signatures associated with two forms of dehumanization. Neuroimage, 79C, 313-328

Marshall S.L.A. (1947) Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command University of Oklahoma Press

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Emotional Literacy: what it is and it's role in bullying both in school and the workplace

Emotional Literacy: what it is and it's role in bullying both in school and the workplace

One of the important concepts in the arena of emotion regulation is that of the lesser well known emotional literacy. Emotional literacy is often confused for emotional intelligence and whilst the two concepts appear to be quite similar there are important differences in their focus.

Emotional literacy really is the process underlying the development of emotional intelligence and emotion regulation.

Emotional literacy is the development of a discreet set of abilities around an individual's or a groups ability to read, interpret, understand their own and particularly others emotions. There is a conscious element here where the individual develops the ability to think accurately about their emotions and in particular can decode and relate to the emotional cues given off by other people. The operative word here is relate. These abilities are the basic requirements for empathy and are needed to learn successful emotion regulation techniques.

Emotional intelligence on the other hand is seen as a general terms which encompasses the whole set of human emotional tools and consciousness including the ability to regulate the emotions. Emotional intelligence is often used as a general overarching concept which can mean a whole range of specific emotional capabilities such as empathy or emotion regulation or the ability to recognise different emotional states depending on the context.

Emotionally literate people pick up on others emotional states and can identify and define their own emotions readily.

Often when helping people learn the skills of emotion regulation and in order to develop emotional resilience one has to take time to first develop the individuals emotional literacy, especially with people from cultures and familiy systems where there is no background of emotional expression or emotional literacy. People from such backgrounds often find it hard to articulate accuratly what is happening to them emotionally and there is evidence to show that such people also find it more dificult to also identify emotions in others and also regulate their own emotions. A study published earlier this year (2013) showed that developing emotional literacy reduced bullying in primary schools and a further study from 2009 showed that pupils with lower levels of emotional literacy were also likely to be victims of bulling.

So both the bully and bullied are more likely to come from the populations with lower levels of emotional literacy.

This is the case both in school and in the workplace. There is a growing amount of evidence to show that emotional literacy / emotional resilience programmes can reduce bullying in schools and the workplace. 

 

References

Einarsen, S. et al (eds) (2010) Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice, Second Edition. CRC Press, 30 Sep 2010

Harris, A (2009) An Investigation of the Relationship between Emotional Literacy and Bullying. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

Knowlera, C & Fredericksonb, N (2013) Effects of an emotional literacy intervention for students identified with bullying behaviour. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology. May 2013.

 

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How the Gruffalo develops emotional literacy, emotional intelligence and emotion regulation.

How the Gruffalo develops emotional literacy, emotional intelligence and emotion regulation.

In this next few blogs I am going to look at emotional literacy, what it is, why it is important and what you can do to help develop it.

Me at an orphanage in South AfricaI am involved in a project in South Africa which is focussed on developing emotional literacy in school children. It has been discovered that if a child grows up without much emotional interaction with caregivers their ability to be able to read the emotional cues others and develop empathy is significantly stunted.

As a baby develops it starts to mimic the expressions of those around it. So we end up playing games with the baby, at first sticking our tongue out for example in response for the child to then copy. As these games develop what is happening as we swap facial expressions is that the child starts to learn to 'read' the facial expressions and body language both on the face of the adult and associate their moods and emotions to those expressions, like laughing or crying. We are in effect helping to programme the baby to associate visual cues with emotions.


As the child develops greater acuity in decoding the signals of emotions they also quickly learn to empathise with the emotional Children asleep on an orphanage floorstate of others. So they not only notice or recognise (decode) when someone is sad or happy or scared, they go inside and can feel the same emotions and understand where that individual is internally. This is emotional literacy.

The problem occurs when a child grows up in a situation where they rarely see others faces, or these facial games that we just automatically play aren't part of the child's learning process. So situations in overcrowded orphanages in areas with high parental death rates from deseases such as HIV/AIDS like areas of South Africa for example or where the child spends most of their day on their mothers back facing inwards tend not to allow for the development of emotional literacy.

Emotions of a GruffaloThe development of emotional literacy doesn't end with mirroring facial expressions. In the west we usually start giving our children picture books at a very early age. When you analyse the content of these books they are full of emotional cues such as expressions and body language. Illustrators of children's books usually include emotional cues even on animals and other non-existant characters in children's books like the Gruffalo story for example. You can tell or decode exactly what any of the characters in that story are feeling just from the drawings. Children in the west are often but nort always surrounded by the building blocks of emotional literacy. 

In areas like Africa on the other hand with high poverty rates such books are rare as are the normal emotional signals a child would normally get with one-to-one care. The problem is that emotional literacy is the precrusor to empathy and empathy, it turns out, is what stops most of us turning to crime, abuse and violence.

In the second of the series I will look at the research evidence behind this post, why some people are bullies and a whole load more!

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Eating as an emotion regulation strategy

Eating as an emotion regulation strategy

Some research just published by Dr. Angelina Sutin, a psychological scientist and a team of colleagues at the Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee looking into the effects of negative emotional 'hits' on obese people particularly in the form of weight discrimination or weightism. The researchers weighed 1919 individuals in 2006 and again in 2010 and found that those who had suffered from some form of direct weigh discrimination were 3 times more likely to weigh more four years later that people who had not suffered from some form of discrimination.
Such forms of unhealthy or maladaptive emotion regulation strategies are common and include drug taking, self harm, forms or reckless driving, aggression to name a few.

A scan of the eating disorder research reveals a vast array of literature and research all pointing to evidence that many eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are considered by psychiatrists to me maladaptive emotion regulation strategies.
One such study from King's College London published in 2009 found that when compared to people with healthy eating habits, people with anorexia nervosa had a significantly harder time decoding emotions or emotion recognition (emotional intelligence) and significantly more difficulties with emotion regulation (emotional resilience).

There have been suggestions that eating disorders are more a function of problems with decision making as opposed to maladaptive emotion regulation issues. A study in 2010 from researchers at the University of Montpellier gives evidence that this is not the case and individuals with eating disorders do not display any impairment in decision making.

On the 15th August I will be running a LIVE online seminar called 'How we catch anxiety and fear and what to do about it'. I will be covering some of the latest research and ideas about the 'why' of anxiety and fear. The seminar is FREE but there are only100 places. If you would like to book a place simply leave your details below:

The seminar will be at 6pm UK (BST) (1pm EDT - 10AM PDT - 7PM CEST /SAST - 3AM AEST)

 

References

Guillaume, S. Et Al (2010) Is decision making really impaired in eating disorders? Neuropsychology. 2010 Nov;24(6):808-12. doi: 10.1037/a0019806.

Harrison, A. Et al (2009) Emotion recognition and regulation in anorexia nervosa. Clinical Psychology and psychotherapy 2009 Jul-Aug;16(4):348-56. doi: 10.1002/cpp.628.

Sutin, A.R. et al (2013) I know not to, but I can't help it: Weight gain and changes in impulsivity-related personality traits. Psychological Science July 2013 vol. 24 no. 7 1323-1328. doi:10.1177/0956797612469212

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