child with E=MC squared written on a chalkboard behind him

There are many types of intelligence. Image: Shutterstock

How do we define intelligence?  Is it something reflected on a test score, or is it something more? Albert Einstein couldn’t remember his own telephone number.  Based on that, we would probably label him learning impaired.  Yet, obviously, he was a genius.

Intelligence is an elusive quantifier.  We now break it down into two categories – IQ and EQ, or intellectual quotient and emotional quotient.  What do these words really mean, and which, if one could choose, would be more important?

Typically, IQ is the type of intelligence measured by a standardized test.  You receive input from the teacher, you process it and then spit it out on the test.  Those who receive a high score are usually classified as good students who study hard.  That, while often true, is not always so.  Some students have photographic memories, so they don’t have to study hard.  Some students are very intelligent but can’t read very well.  That could end up costing points on a typical paper and pencil exam.

Then there is the other type of intelligence – the EQ.  One might argue that emotions have nothing to do with learning at all.  That person would be dead wrong.  Studies have shown that students who also possess an emotional quotient end up becoming more successful in life.  They are better able to relate to others and empathize and sympathize.  This type of intelligence can be taught.

A baby is not born with the ability to relate to others, play nicely, share and so on.  In fact, sharing is not something that might naturally have helped a child in nature.  There is an instinct to gather everything (like food and useful items) you can to make it through lean times.  However, in modern society, that type of hoarding is not helpful.  Showing that you can relate to others is.  The ability to show your concern and help others will draw others toward you and create stronger social bonds which lead to a longer, happier life.


Emotional quotient important. Image: Shutterstock

Those who form friendships tend to be happier and do better in school.  They experience less stress and get sick less frequently.  So, while knowing how to pass a test is important, it’s certainly not the only measure of universal intelligence.