The 10 Most Influential People In Family Life Today

They impact everything from the food our children eat in school to the movies that our families watch to the way moms confide in each other.
Feb 06, 2013

8. Daniel Goleman


Photo: Frank Ward

His name may not ring a bell at home, but in the classroom, he’s a star. Goleman, a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, is the psychologist behind the theory that supporting a child’s emotional intelligence results in a higher intellectual intelligence. Since his landmark book Emotional Intelligence first appeared in 1995, his ideas have made their way into schools in all 50 states. Does your child’s teacher use a traffic light system to promote good behavior? (Red means stop for a problem. Yellow is for brainstorming. Green means go.) This is a classic Goleman-inspired social and emotional learning (SEL) exercise.

Social and emotional intelligence (EQ) is a measure of how a person operates in the world as opposed to how he scores on tests, which measures intellectual intelligence (IQ). Goleman believes EQ informs IQ. “The better you can handle your anxiety, the better your brain can take in knowledge and learn,” he says. A recent study by Goleman’s nonprofit group shows an 11 to 17 percent gain in test scores among students whose schools use SEL teaching methods.



Short & Sweet: 3 Answers From Daniel Goleman on Emotional IQ


P&C: What is Emotional Intelligence?

Goleman: There are four parts:

  1. Self-awareness: knowing what you are feeling and why
  2. Self-management: calming down when you’re upset or vocalizing your positive emotions when you reach your goal
  3. Empathy: sensing how other people are feeling
  4. Relationship skills: putting it all together to be effective with others


P&C: Your thoughts on America’s test-based school system?

Goleman: I think it’s based on a faulty assumption that all that matters in life is success in how well you did on your test scores in school. A study published in Nature, which followed more than a thousands kids, each born in a New Zealand city [and tracked until age] 30, found that the best predictor of their success financially and in relationships was not I.Q.; it was how well they managed their emotions, particularly their ability to manage impulses and delay gratification. That’s what we should be teaching.


P&C: Where do E.Q. theories originate?

Goleman: Social and emotional learning (SEL) is based on a new understanding in brain science called neuroplasticity. This means that the brain is continually reshaped through life, and the things we repeat strengthen the circuitry for that set of behaviors. It’s very important to give kids the right lessons at the right times, particularly because the emotional circuits in the brain are the last part of the brain to become anatomically mature. We have a unique opportunity to get it right until about age 20.


This interview has been edited and condensed.



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