In recent years, the term emotional intelligence has become popularized in the media, beginning with the success of Goleman's best-selling book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1995). Since the time this book was published, other media outlets including educational curriculums and Internet web sites have promoted this growing area of interest. Although emotional intelligence continues to be popular in the commercial media, there is actually very little scientific research on this topic. Much of the available research relates to university students (Dawda & Hart, 1999) and people in the workplace (Cherniss, 2000; Goleman, 1995), with minimal attention given to children and adolescents. What the available research does show is that there is disagreement among researchers as to the definition of emotional intelligence. Though a consistent definition does not exist in the research, it does appear that researchers agree that emotional intelligence is developmental in nature and can be improved upon during one's lifetime (Bar-On & Parker, 2000; Goleman, 1995; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Salovey & Mayer, 1990). In an attempt to improve emotional intelligence skills, specific curriculums have been designed and marketed to increase children's levels of emotional intelligence. Using a program evaluation model, this paper includes a review of these curriculums in an attempt to determine their relationship with the emotional intelligence models found in the scientific research. It was found that these curriculums actually rely very little on the research when defining emotional intelligence, and that there is no specific evidence to support their claims that children's emotional intelligence skills improve after participating in these programs. In fact, in most cases, it seems as though the research as been ignored. Furthermore, it was found that other established programs, not claiming specifically to increase emotional intelligence skills, actually do address many skills involved in the various definitions of emotional intelligence, though they have not been specifically marketed to do so. Aside from these marketed curriculums, the Internet also offers a few websites that pertain to emotional intelligence in children, although much of the presented information, again, is not based on the available research. Because these marketed curriculums and Internet web sites appear to make unsubstantiated claims and as a result they mislead the reader by presenting information that is not supported by scientific data, professionals need to be cautious when choosing programs to implement with students. Using a program evaluation model will assist in determining whether the program is reaching the target population, as well as if the programs' interventions are effective. In addition, all consumers need to be aware of information presented on the Internet, to be alerted that much of the presented information is not based on scientific research, and therefore need to question the validity of the information being presented.
Weiten, Ericka, "Emotional Intelligence in Children: A Review of Programs and Web Sites" (2003). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 572.