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What is the Difference Between EQ and IQ?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Emotional Quotient (EQ) is a way to measure how a person recognizes emotions in himself or herself and others, and manages these emotional states to work better as a group or team. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a value that indicates a person's ability to learn, understand, and apply information and skills in a meaningful way. The major difference between EQ and IQ is what part of a person's mental abilities they measure: understanding emotion or understanding information.

Understanding Emotional and Intelligence Quotient

According to some theories of brain function, a high EQ means someone is self-confident, self-aware, and able to handle difficult emotional experiences. It is often tied directly to the degree of success a person may have in the workplace and in personal relationships. People with high EQ can often better recognize and control their own emotions, and recognize emotional states in others to adjust their behavior accordingly.

A person's IQ, on the other hand, measures concepts like logical reasoning, word comprehension, and math skills rather than creative potential or emotional abilities. People with a high IQ may be able to learn certain subjects very quickly and make connections between ideas that others miss. They often have great academic success, although they may struggle to find classes that challenge them. The ability to acquire knowledge does not necessarily mean people can recognize and manage their own emotional states, however.

Correlations Between EQ and IQ

There is a great deal of disagreement about any potential link between these two quotients; it is not clear if one indicates or has an impact on the other. Emotional intelligence is often more difficult to measure than IQ, and the methods used are fairly different, so it's not easy to compare them on equal terms. There are also many individuals with very high IQs who seem to be limited in terms of social skills and emotional recognition. Such examples suggest that they are different aspects of the human mind and should be considered separately.

Measuring EQ and IQ

People have been measuring IQ for much longer than EQ. The first modern IQ test was developed in the early 20th century; although some aspects of emotional intelligence have been considered since that time, EQ tests really were not developed until the 1990s. Many modifications on these tests have been made since then, and there are competing models for how to most accurately measure these quotients.

An IQ test usually involves a set of standardized questions for which the test taker receives a score. This score is compared against the average scores of others within the same age range to determine a person's intellectual potential. These types of tests may have a cultural or language bias, however, and they do not indicate everything about a person's mind and functionality. For example, IQ measurements on most children with autism are typically very high, yet these children can have difficulties communicating with others.

An EQ exam is often more difficult to design and administer because it deals with information that is difficult to present as a numerical value. While an IQ exam may have one definitive answer for each question, EQ tests are usually more subjective and require a great deal of work to score properly. Short EQ tests can also be problematic as people may realize they are being tested on their emotional capabilities and adjust their answers accordingly. People might not answer questions truthfully, so results may become skewed by what the test taker believe the test giver wants to hear, rather than giving true responses to questions.

Using Emotional and Intelligence Quotient

Once a person's EQ and IQ are determined, they can be used by employers and educators in a variety of ways. Many companies use EQ testing to gauge how well applicants will work with others on a team and their ability to deal with stress and emotional extremes. Teachers and counselors at schools can administer IQ tests to see if students are having difficulties in class due to being too advanced or behind when compared to their peers. EQ tests are often used in education to help identify those students who may need special assistance in learning to manage their emotions or to better communicate with others.

Other Systems for Measuring Intelligence

Some educators and psychologists feel that neither EQ nor IQ testing present the full picture of a human being, and that there are other types of intelligence that may be just as important. One of the most popular alternatives to strictly EQ/IQ systems is the idea of multiple intelligences. This theory states that skills such as language, spatial relations, and body awareness all require different types of intelligence, which should be measured and considered individually.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon993764 — On Dec 13, 2015

This is more complex than the above would suggest. As humans we tend to focus on what we're good at. It makes us feel accepted and safe. And if you can get away with being how you are and are not overly curious then you will not grow your worldliness or EQ as well as others going through hardships because we 'grow' proportionately to need.

With a very high IQ (say > 145) often comes an overly strong focus on the cognitive and and so takes us away from feelings or developing an understanding of them. Hence a very high IQ does not bring a higher EQ. However, it's been found that a higher EQ is found with people with above average IQ (> 90/100). However it's further complicated as people who create and drive organizations often have high personal EQ and low social EQ ( the two components of EQ). In other words, they are focused and driven and self-confident, but are not overly concerned with others, or empathetic of their relationships with them. (Look at EQ CEO data). So it's often the social EQ that makes the difference. Social EQ is measured by EQ tests.

By anon357370 — On Dec 03, 2013

I wore my favorite pair of earrings to work but I didn't realize that they'd worked themselves loose and were ready to fall out. I work with teachers, senior managers and a headmaster, but the only person who noticed the problem was a child in the stream form for below average children. Measure that!

By sky7ark — On Sep 26, 2013

As intelligence increases, emotional development decreases. The ability to sustain personal relationships with family, friends, and love deteriorates at a rate of time proportional to the sum of time spent learning and increasing intelligence. This results in conflicting goals: intelligence vs. emotional development, which means Maslow's hierarchy is flawed as self actualization is not built on belonging or love, but rather the fulfillment of becoming more intelligent.

In fact, there is little evidence that you become more intelligent and 'move up the hierarchy' once you feel that you belong. Belonging is an emotion that deteriorates as your intelligence increases.

By anon315429 — On Jan 24, 2013

IQ is something you are born with, but EQ can be improved.

By anon314313 — On Jan 17, 2013

How meaningful and important are the IQ and EQ scores?

By anon274297 — On Jun 11, 2012

EQ is a gift provided to just a few people, like Bill Gates.

By anon273440 — On Jun 07, 2012

I myself have found ways to balance IQ with EQ effectively. The way I found balance was through enlightenment. Kind of like what anon30993 was saying about the Buddhist point of view, but I’ll get to that later. That was my first step to balancing productively.

My IQ is a big factor in my EQ. I use my intelligence and my high sense of perception to take information and process it in such a way where I take an idea and take it to a higher extreme, or purpose to self-teach to grow my mind and grow my understanding of myself, others and all surroundings. My high potential to learn has made me want to learn more and grow my mind, so right now, my mind is like a sponge and is making itself more aware physically and mentally. Basically, my mind gets an idea then it takes it to the next level, then that gives me more ideas then it continues perpetually until I can comprehend concepts that scholars take years to learn through college courses such as psychology, sociology and most of all, behaviorally.

My vast understanding of behavior is the sole reason I have a high EQ. I study reactions through the art of communication. I study people’s emotions as I chat with them, but little do they know they are part of my ongoing experiments. I adjust the conversation as it goes along so I can study both extremes of their emotions and everything in between.

The less people know about the study the better, because if they knew I was analyzing them, they would instinctively adjust their answers to please the study, which would ruin it. The same thing happens when being tested for their EQ. That’s why it’s so hard to get an accurate reading of someone’s EQ.

For me, it would be hard because I know when I'm being probed for information, which is no fun. I naturally sense the progression of a conversation to influence motivation and behavior.

By anon173394 — On May 07, 2011

The higher the I.Q, the higher emotional intelligence is. Intelligence comes from passion, emotion,and daily hard work.

By anon111268 — On Sep 15, 2010

habura, that isn't true. I am taking psychology courses and there is a definite correlation between the two, and that is proven. It's correlation coefficient is .7 so in most cases the higher IQ someone has, or the higher their potential to learn is, the higher their emotional intelligence is.

By anon30993 — On Apr 28, 2009

We need to be fully aware of what the arising thought.

We then watch the effect on our body, mind and feeling.

Most importantly, keep awareness of Dhamma and Sila.

Also practice Five Precepts.

Not to kill any living being;

Not to take what is not freely given;

No sexual misconduct

No lying; and

No drinking alcohol or taking drugs that makes your mind cloudy

As from a Buddhist point of view. In order to have higher EQ, we should practice the above.

By habura — On Jun 06, 2008

I think studies have shown little to no correlation between IQ and EQ but it seems like, in my experience, the two seem to usually (but not always) be inversely related!

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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